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ILontion: FETTER LANE, E.G. 

C. F. CLAY, Manager 

Ctjinburfl}): loo, PRINCES STREET 

lonlion: H. K. LEWIS, 136, GOWER STREET, W.C. 

JScrlin: A. ASHER AND CO. 

ILcipjig: F. A. BROCKHAUS 

i^thJ ^ork: G. P. PUTNAM'S SONS 

Bombag anU Calcutta: MACMILLAN AND CO., Ltd. 

All rtqhts reserved 













74 o 






THE greater part of the material which has been utilised 
in this volume was collected in 1904 on the Daniels 
Ethnographical Expedition to New Guinea, towards which 
a small grant was made by the Royal Society. I have also 
made use of notes made during 1898 when I visited New 
Guinea as a member of the Cambridge Anthropological 
Expedition to Torres Straits. Major Cooke Daniels, how- 
ever, is not in any way responsible for the production of this 
book, which it was for a long time intended should be 
published in a slightly shorter form as the first volume of 
a series of Reports dealing with the work of the Expedition, 
and it was with the most sincere regret that I found myself 
compelled to abandon this project. This is also the reason 
why the crafts and arts of the various groups have not been 
dealt with in this book. 

It is difficult to express my gratitude to a number of 
friends who in one way and another have assisted in the pro- 
duction of this volume. Foremost among these are Captain 
F. R. Barton, C.M.G., late Administrator of the Possession, 
Dr A. C. Haddon, F.R.S., and Dr H. O. Forbes. All these 
gentlemen have placed their collections of New Guinea 
photographs unreservedly at my disposal and they have been 
equally generous with the contents of their notebooks. 

I have received nothino- but kindness from the officials 
concerned in the administration of the Possession, who one 
and all assisted me to the full extent of their powers. Of 
these I would mention specially Mr D. Ballantine, The Hon. 
A. M. Campbell, Mr G. O. Manning, Mr A. C. English, 
Mr J. MacDonald and Dr W. Mersh Strong who was for 

vi Preface 

some time a member of the Expedition. I am especially 
indebted to Dr Strong for much valuable information con- 
cerning the Roro-speaking tribes and the mountaineers of the 
hinterland of his district which he collected after he had taken 
up the responsible position of Government Agent for Mekeo. 

My sincere thanks are due to the Bishop of British New 
Guinea and to his energetic assistants the Rev. Henry Newton 
and Mr E. L. Giblin, who besides acting as interpreters in 
the field have sent me a great deal of valuable information. 
I am no less indebted to the members of the Mission of the 
Sacred Heart who, from the Archbishop to the humblest 
coloured assistant, showed me the greatest kindness. Without 
the active co-operation of the Rev. Fathers Vitali, Egldi, 
Guibaud and Cochard it would have been Impossible to 
gather more than a small part of the Information concerning 
the Roro-speaking tribes and those of Mekeo. 

I received much kindness from the late Dr Lawes and 
Mrs Lawes. The Rev. H. M. Dauncey has lent me a 
number of photographs, while I owe the use of others belong- 
ing to the London Missionary Society to the courtesy of the 
Rev. C. W. Abel. 

The title of the book was selected to emphasise the origin 
and the affinities of the immigrants who have occupied so 
much of British New Guinea; it does not deal with the 
Papuans, the original inhabitants of the Possession. In the 
Introduction I have given my reasons for dividing the im- 
migrant Melaneslans into two great divisions, the Western 
Papuo-Melanesians and the Massim (Eastern Papuo- Mela- 
neslans), and I have briefly described the principal tribes and 
ethnic groups of each division and Indicated the directions in 
which our knowledge is most defective. 

In the first half of the book I have described certain of 
the tribes of the Western Papuo-Melanesians. It was im- 
possible in the time at my disposal to make a lengthy investi- 
gation of the customs and habits of all the tribes of this great 
division with which I came in contact. I therefore resolved 

Preface vii 

to select one of the tribes possessing a simple form of chief- 
tainship and clan-system and to endeavour to obtain an 
outline, not only of the social organisation of this tribe, but of 
all its more important habits and customs, and then to do 
as much work as possible on the variations in the social 
system of other tribes among whom I knew there was a 
comparatively complicated organisation of the clans and a 
highly developed system of chieftainship. Circumstances 
prevented my carrying out this plan as fully as I had intended, 
and I am unable to give an account of the social system of a 
number of tribes of which the Aroma and Mailu must be taken 
as types, but some of the essential social characteristics of 
these tribes have been mentioned in the Introduction. 

Following this scheme it will be found that the chapters 
on the Koita give a general sketch of the habits and customs 
of the tribe, while in the chapters on the Roro and the Mekeo 
I have limited myself to those matters of social organisation 
in which these tribes differ from the Koita and from each 

The second half of the book is concerned with the Massirn 
(Eastern Papuo-Melanesians), but as these people present no 
well-marked groups which can be called tribes (cf. Intro- 
duction, p. 9), I have described their customs under two 
headings corresponding to the two main divisions, northern 
and southern, into which the natives of the Massim area can 
be divided (cf. Introduction, p. 7). In this part of the volume 
I have again been forced to follow the scheme adopted in the 
first portion. The organisation and customs of the Southern 
Massim are described at some length, but I have only been 
able to indicate some of the chief divergences in the funda- 
mentals of their social organisation shown by the Northern 

In the account of the politico-economic system and customs 
of the Southern Massim, I have described with as much detail 
as possible the communities of Discovery Bay (in Milne Bay), 
Tubetube (an island of the Engineer Group) and Bartle Bay 

viii Preface 

(in Goodenough Bay). I regard the two first mentioned as 
typical Massim in culture, the last shows certain unusual 
features, doubtless due to the influence of non-Melanesian 
tribes to the west. I have then outlined, for my information 
allows me to do no more, the conditions prevailing among the 
Northern Massim, the inhabitants of the Trobriand and 
Marshall Bennet Groups, Murua (the Woodlarks) and Nada 
(the Laughlans), besides certain smaller groups of islands near 
these, such as the Egum Group and Tokunu (the Alcesters). 

Since the Introduction was written I have received from 
Dr H. O. Forbes information indicating that the inhabitants 
of the Louisiades themselves recognize that they form a group 
differing from the more western islands. The people of the 
Redlick Islets lying south-east of the Deboyne lagoon divide 
the archipelagoes of the south-east into two divisions, viz. 
Konabeai and Roroman. The former term is applied to * all 
islands lying to the east of Mewstone [Moturina] and Brooker 
[Utian]' while Roroman includes 'all islands to the west.' 
Nevertheless the system of linked totems prevailing in the 
Louisiades is identical with that found over the remainder of 
the Massim area. 

It may be assumed that the division discovered by Dr 
Forbes takes no account of the islands of the Northern Massim 
nor of the D'Entrecasteaux Group. I have no direct in- 
formation concerning the social organisation of the inhabitants 
of the latter, but the results of physical examination show that 
the natives of this group are Massim, while the fact that the 
ancestors of the present inhabitants of Tubetube came from 
Duau, i.e. the western part of Normanby Island, may be taken 
to indicate that the politico-economic system of the D'Entre- 
casteaux islanders is that of the Southern Massim. 

The trustworthiness and therefore the value of the in- 
formation presented in this volume vary. This is not to be 
wondered at in view of the fact that the facilities for work 
varied greatly in different localities. I have, however, in- 
cluded nothing which I have not investigated myself or 

Preface ix 

received from informants whose observation and judgment I 
can trust. The information relating to the Koita is probably 
the most trustworthy, having been gathered from Ahuia Ova, 
the hereditary chief of the Hohodai Koita, who, without 
becoming spoilt, has learnt to speak English and to write 
Motu extremely well. Our conversations were mostly held on 
the verandah of the house where he lived with his uncle 
Taubada, the old chief of Hohodai. This old man and a 
number of his friends and contemporaries were constantly 
in attendance, ready and anxious to explain any difficulties. 
After a rough draft of the chapters upon the Koita had been 
written it was sent to Captain Barton, who was then in New 
Guinea, and who criticised and cleared up a number of doubtful 
matters by inquiries made on the spot. Thus it is evident 
that the conditions under which this manuscript was produced 
were unusually favourable. 

Part of the information dealing with the Roro-speaking 
tribes was obtained through the direct questioning of natives 
in 'pidgin' English, but much was elicited by Fathers Guibaud 
and Cochard, who often acted as interpreters and who placed 
their own knowledge freely at my disposal. 

The material upon which the Mekeo chapters are based 
was obtained in the shape of answers to questions asked by 
members of the Sacred Heart Mission, who translated the 
answers given to them. To this material I was able to add 
much valuable information derived from manuscript given to 
me by Father Egidi, who most kindly read through and 
criticised a rough draft of those parts of my manuscript about 
which I felt doubtful. 

My notes dealing with the Massim were on the whole 
collected under less favourable circumstances; I had visited 
the tribes already mentioned in 1898, but my first visit to the 
Massim was in 1904, and my information was everywhere 
collected through an interpreter by means of questions and 
answers in 'pidgin' English, except at Bartle Bay where 
Mr Newton and Mr Giblin acted as interpreters. 'Pidgin' 


X Preface 

English was quite satisfactory at Milne Bay (whence my 
Interpreter came) and worked well at Tubetube, but during 
the whole of the time spent among the Northern Massim 
I was conscious that with a better interpreter I might have 
carried my inquiries further, and the time spent in these 
islands was all too short. Mr R. L. Bellamy who has been 
stationed for some years on the Trobriands has most kindly 
read through my manuscript relating to the Northern Massim 
and has made a number of corrections besides giving me much 
additional information. Mr Newton has not only contributed 
to those chapters dealing with Bartle Bay but has also read 
through and criticised the greater part of the manuscript 
dealing with information gathered in that part of New 
Guinea. Mr GIblln has contributed Information concerning 
the same part of the Possession as well as a number of folk 
tales, and the whole of the manuscript dealing with the 
Southern Massim has passed through his hands and received 
the benefit of his knowledge of the Taupota, whose customs 
appear to be the same as those of Wagawaga. 

My Indebtedness to a number of friends In this country is 
very great. Dr W. H. R. Rivers has read through nearly the 
whole of this work In manuscript and those portions which he 
was unable to read owing to absence from England have been 
read by Dr H addon, who has also corrected a considerable 
part of the proofs. Mr C. H. Read and Mr T. A. Joyce 
have helped me In various ways and I have received much 
kindness from Professor RIdgeway. A number of animals 
and plants have been identified by the authorities at Kew and 
at the British Museum (Natural History Museum). The 
majority of the drawings have been made by Mr Norman 
H. Hardy and the index and glossary prepared by Miss 
M. C. Jonas. 

C. G. S. 

I^ai'. 1 909. 









Iduhu^ Clans — Iduhu Dagi, Clan-badges — Chieftainship — Duties and 
Privileges of Iduhu Rohi and Rohi Ketaike — Present Conditions — 
Tribal Status and Address Terms — The Dubu. 


Kinship and Relationship — Functions and Privileges of Certain Kin — 
Friendship — Adoption — Name Giving — Heni Ceremony — Ear Piercing 
— Nose Boring — Assumption of Sihi — Tattoo. 



Courtship and Marriage — Divorce — The Regulation of Marriage — 
Intermarriage of Koita and Motu — Marriage within the Village — 
Marriage within the Iduhu — Marriage and Kinship — Polygyny. 


Conception and Pregnancy — Labour and Care of Child — Puerperium — 

xii Contents 




Land Tenure— Women in Relation to Land— Personal Property- 
Inheritance of Personal Property— Inheritance of Real Property. 







Legend of the Origin of the //zW— Customs and Procedure before the 
Voyage— Arrival of Lakatoi in the Gulf— The Return Journey- 
Customs observed during the absence of the Lakatoi — Size of Asi 
and Lakatoi— Lakatoi Cargoes and Crew— The value and price of 
S3.go— Lakatoi Ehona — Return visits of Gulf Natives — Lakatoi Lan- 



War— Homicide in relation to the Community — Homicide in relation 
to the individual. 



Theft — Domestic and Sexual Morality — Homicide — Gambling. 

TABOO 136 

Taboo Signs— Death Taboos — Food Taboos— Place Taboos — Name 
Taboos — Sex Taboos. 



The Koriko Feast — The Hekarai Ceremony — The Tabu Feast. 






Bowa Feast— Venedairi Fe2iSt—/ta Feast. 


Contents xiii 




Sorcery — Popular and Minor Magic — Origin of Charms — Agricultural 
Charms — Hunting Charms — Fishing Charms — Dugong and Turtle 
Charms — War Charms — Love Charms — Weather Charms — Divina- 



Mythical Beings — Omens — Eschatology — Cult of the Heavenly Bodies. 




History and Migrations of the Roro-speaking Tribes — Distribution of 
Clans within the Villages — External Relations and Trade. 



Decay of Oaoa — Doubtful Oaba. 



Insignium of Chieftainship. 



The Building and Inauguration of a Marea — Oaoa in relation to the 
Marea — Classification of Oaoa found in Marea — Ornaments in and 
upon Marea — Tables of Local Groups, Clans, Clan-badges and Club- 
houses of the Roro-speaking Tribes. 



Childhood — Assumption of the Perineal Bandage, Itaburi — The Ibitoe — 
^ Initiation — Aruaru Ceremonies — Tattooing of Girls. 

xiv Contents 







Sorcery— Magic — Kaivakuku — Minor Magic. 



Spiritual Beings— Oa Rove— Omens— Eschatology. 






Kangakanga — Ngopu Groups — Table of the Pangua of the Biofa and 
Vee, showing the Ngopu group to which each Pangua belongs — Club- 
houses — Ngove. 





List of Pangua of the Vee Villages, their Ufuapie and Iauafa7igai — 
Inawaia — List of Pangua of some of the Biofa villages, their Ufuapie 
and lauafangai — The P^unctions of the Ufuapie in connection with 
death and mourning ceremonies — The Ufuapie and the Regulation of 

Contents xv 




MEKEO 366 

Table of Mekeo Villages, Pangua (Clans), Ngopu Groups, lauafangai^ 
Ufii (Clubhouses) and Kangakanga (Clan-badges). 





Wagawaga : The Birth of the Sun — How Fire came — The first Coco- 
nut — The Story of the snake Sinerogusi Sarasara — Hagwai the Cuscus 
— The Story of the Bat's Cave — How Drums came to Wagawaga — The 
Story of the Song Waiaga — Tanoduya — The Greedy Cave Dwellers — 
Tuisuheaia the red eel — The Story of Kwahohofi — The Ogre Kuporu — 
Gwarigwaridona and Faisi Uri. Taupota : The black Cockatoo — The 
Lily Root — Taumudukoro — Taukunugegewari — Sorcery — The Frog- 
Witch— The Origin of the White Man. Awaiama r The Fig Tree. 
GOODENOUGH BAY : (Bou) The Boa Constrictor— (Wedau) The Rat 
and the Butterfly — (Wamira) The Lizard and the Bird — (Wedau) The 
Cock — (Wamira) The Dun Pig — (Gelaria) Dabedabe — The Mapa Tree — 
(Mukaua) Gamey Leg and Sleepy Leg — (Menapi) Kukuku and Waima. 



Wagawaga — Tubetube — Bartle Bay (by C. G. Seligmann and E. L. 



Clans and Clan-Groups : Wagawaga— Tubetube— Bartle Bay. 
ToTEMiSM : Wagawaga — Tubetube — Bartle Bay (by C. G. Seligmann 
and E. L. Giblin). 

xvi Contents 




Chieftainship : Wagawaga and Tubetube— Bartle Bay (by C. G. Selig- 
Wagawaga and Tubetube. Stone CIRCLES AND Squatting Places : 
Wagawaga— Bartle Bay. Ownership of Land : Wagawaga and 
Tubetube. Kimta and Eriam: Wagawaga and Tubetube — Bartle 
Bay (by C. G. Seligmann and E. L. Giblin)— Note by Mr Newton. 



The Hamlet and the Family-Group. Kinship and Relation- 
ship: Wagawaga— Tubetube. FUNCTIONS AND Privileges of 
Certain Kin. Name Avoidance. Avoidance of Contact. 
Adoption. Infancy and Youth : Wagawaga— Tubetube. Ado- 
lescence: Tubetube. Initiation Ceremonies (by C. G. Seligmann 
and E. L. Giblin): Initiation of Boys — Initiation of Girls. 



Wagawaga— Tubetube. COURTSHIP and Betrothal : Bartle Bay 
(by C. G. Seligmann and E. L. Giblin). Marriage: Wagawaga — 
Tubetube — Bartle Bay (by C. G. Seligmann and E. L. Giblin). The 
Regulation of Marriage: Wagawaga— Tubetube. Marriage in 
Relation to Gardens and House Land : Wagawaga — Tubetube — 
Polygyny — Divorce. 



Inheritance: Wagawaga— Tubetube— Bartle Bay (by H. Newton). 

TRADE 526 

Wagawaga — Tubetube — Trading Voyages — Commercial Agents — 
Trade from beyond the Massim Area. 



Peace- .making: Bartle Bay (by H. Newton). 



Wagawaga — Tubetube. 

Contents xvii 




Domestic morality — Sexual Morality — Modesty — Homicide — Suicide — 
Theft — Commercial Morality. 



Limitations of the Taboo — Nature, Action, and use of the Taboo — 
Taboo Signs — Death Taboos— Food Taboos — Place Taboos — Name 
Taboos — Sex Taboos. 


Feasts : Wagawaga — Tubetube. Dances : Wagawaga — Tubetube — 
Bartle Bay. Songs: Wagawaga — Tubetube. The Walaga Feast 
AND THE Cult of the Mango : Bartle Bay (by C. G. Seligmann and 
E. L. Giblin). The Walaga Feast at Diwari (by H. Newton). 



Death and Burial: Wagawaga— Tubetube— Bartle Bay (by C. G. 
Seligmann and E. L. Giblin). Mourning : Wagawaga — Tubetube. 
Mourning Feasts: Wagawaga — Tubetube— Bartle Bay (by C. G. 
Seligmann and E. L. Giblin). Burial at the Present Day : Tube- 
tube. Avoidance of the Names of the Dead : Wagawaga — 
Tubetube. Destruction of the Houses of the Dead : Wagawaga 
— Tubetube. Toreha: Wagawaga. Wapa Ceremony: Bartle Bay 
(by C. G. Seligmann and E. L. Giblin). Dabadabagigira: Wagawaga. 



The production of disease and death by magical means. 


Wagawaga — Tubetube — Bartle Bay. CuLT OF THE Heavenly 
Bodies. The Cult of the Mango. Omens : Wagawaga — Tubetube 
Bartle Bay. Dreams. Divination: Wagawaga. Eschatology: 
Wagawaga — Tubetube — Bartle Bay. 




The Trobriands — The Marshall Bennets — Murua and its Annexes. 

xviii Contents 



The Trobriands— The Marshall Bennets— Murua. 

. 677 


CHIEFTAINSHIP . . . ' . ' • • ' • • ' • • -692 
The Trobriands— The Marshall Bennets. 



Childhood and Adolescence. 



Tlie. Trobriands— The Marshall Bennets — Murua— Polygyny— The 
Regulation of Marriage. 



The Trobriands— The Marshall Bennets— Murua. 





MUKAUA. (By E. L. GIBLIN) 74° 

Totemism— Chieftainship— Betrothal and Marriage. 


INDEX 755 





















Hanuabada (Port Moresby). Frontispiece 

to face page 

Pokao woman. (Captain F. R. Barton) 2 

Two men of Hanuabada (Port Moresby). (Captain F. R. 

Barton) 3 

Ahuia Ova. (Captain F. R. Barton) i7 

House dubu at Kalo, Hood Peninsula. (Dr A. C. Haddon) . 20 
Agaiambo man and Goodenough Islander. (Captain F. R. 

Barton) 33 

Drawing by Ahuia of pig jaws on his veranda . . . . 5^ 

Old dubu at Hohodai 60 

Dubu at Gaile. (Captain F. R. Barton) 61 

Heni ceremony 72 

Tattooed Girl. (Captain F. R. Barton) 74 

Tattooed Girl showing ^^^^. (Captain F. R. Barton) . . 74 
Port Moresby lakatoi. (Captain F. R. Barton) . . . .106 
Part of interior of a lakatoi showing packages of sago. (Captain 

F.R.Barton) "S 

Tattoo assumed by homicide. (Captain F. R. Barton) . .130 

Food prepared for the koriko feast i43 

Food collected for the hekarai ceremony I45 

Games preceding the tabu feast I45 

Native drawing of dubu prepared for the tabu feast, the koniu 

ceremony is shown on the extreme right I49 

The dubu at Pari dressed for the tabu feast. (G. O. Manning) . 148 
Women with yams at the tabu feast. (G. O. Manning) . . 149 

The takaka figure of the dance ma£-ino£^o I57 

Native drawing of hill showing stone Eyamune . . . '157 
Bisa and tobi in Guriu village. (Captain F. R. Barton) . .160 

Exposure of corpse on ^/^^ 161 

Koita widow .164 


List of Plates 




































(Rev. H. M 

carved by 

The robumomotno ceremony 

Koita charms 

Uriia and sese offerings 

Hill on which lives Hara Tabu 

De^i'ase ..... 

Vada and victim . 

House at Waima. (Dr A. C. Haddon) 

Feather dada of the Roro-speaking tribes. 


A marea at Waima. (Rev. Father Fillodeau) 

A marea at Moii. (Dr A. C. Haddon) 

Anapua marea of Siria village. (Dr A. C. Haddon) 

Human-headed post in old clubhouse at Diumana, 
Poa Oa. (Rev. H. M. Dauncey) . 

Waima girls showing tattoo .... 

Waho at Waima. (Rev. H. M. Dauncey) . 

Skull prepared for sorcery ..... 

Kaivakukii masks at Hisiu. (Captain F. R. Barton) 

Part of Veifa village. (Rev. Father Fillodeau) . 

Feather kangakanga, (Rev. H. M. Dauncey) 

Popungapi ufu of Rarai village. (Captain F. R. Barton) . 

Clubhouse in Aipiana village showing decoration borrowed from 

Elema tribes. (Captain F. R. Barton) .... 
Ngove formerly existing at Veifa. (Rev. Father Fillodeau) 

Chief's lime %o\\xdi^ faonga 

Diumana clubhouse. (Rev. H. M. Dauncey) 
Scene on Maivara River. (Dr H. O. Forbes) . 
Hamlet on Rogea Island. (Captain F. R. Barton) 
Hamlet on Teste Island. (Dr H. O. Forbes) . 
Houses at Boianai, Bartle Bay. (Captain F. R. Barton) 
House at Maivara, Milne Bay. (Captain F. R. Barton) . 
Carving on house at Maivara. (Captain F. R. Barton) . 
Skulls outside /^/?<wa. (Rev. C. W. Abel) 

A ceremonial platform inaka) at Barabara, Milne Bay. (Rev 
C. W. Abel) 

Restoration of a gahana at Taupota 

\gahana on Fergusson Island. (Captain F. R. Barton) . 


A bagi and samakupa 

Benam in ceremonial handle 

to face page 

List of Plates 


PLATE to face page 
LXII. ^<?;«^w in heavy ceremonial handle 520 

LXIII. A 2£/^^« from Murua. (The Bishop of New Guinea) . . . 526 

LXIV. Rough and partially polished adze blades 533 

LXV. Carved end pieces of large waga from Kiriwina. (Captain 

F. R. Barton) 534 

LXVI. Carved end pieces of two large waga from Murua . . . 534 

LXVII. Waga from Brooker Island (Louisiades). (Dr H. O. Forbes) . 534 

LXVI II. Youths painted for rurepo dance. (Dr H. O. Forbes) . . 585 
LXIX. The lizard dance at Wamira, Bartle Bay. (The Bishop of 

New Guinea) 586 

LXX. Grave at Teste Island. (Dr H. O. Forbes) . . . .608 
LXXI. Grave at Farm Bay near Suau. (Rev. C. W. Abel) . . .608 
LXXII. Aqueduct across the Davudavu creek (Bartle Bay) showing 

carved figures on posts. (The Bishop of New Guinea) . 643 

LXXIII. A Trobriand village. (Dr H. O. Forbes) 662 

LXXIV. House on Nada. (Captain F. R. Barton) 675 

LXXV. Chief's house at Omarakana. (Captain F. R. Barton) . . 695 

LXXVI. Yam houses on Kiriwina. (Captain F. R. Barton) . . . 695 

LXXVII. Carved timbers forming well of chief's yam house. (Captain 

F. R. Barton) 695 

LXXVIII. Sepulchral pottery used on Murua 732 

LXXIX. House on Misima. (Captain F. R. Barton) . . . .736 

Table showing Marriages of the clans of Inawi village 

• 364 


British New Guinea At End 



1. Diagram showing distribution of Papuans and Papuo-Melanesians . 6 

2. Restoration of Aroma dubu 23 

3. Map of coastal portion of Central District 40 

4. Plan of Pari Village .46 

5. Iduhu dagina of {a) Dubara, {b) Taurama, (tr) Keakone clans ... 52 

6. Dried tail of dahudahu 57 

7. Plan of dubu at Gaile 64 

8. Lakatoi ornament, pepe 105 

9. Z,^2y&^/t7/ mast ornament of cowrie shells 105 

10. Native drawing of taboo signs 137 

11. V>\2Lgx?iT:\. oi maginogo . .156 

12. Collar made of dead man's perineal band 163 

13. Koita charms 174 

14. Sketch map of Roro and Mekeo districts 194 

15. O^Vz of the Roro-speaking tribes 208 

16. Framework worn to support feather oada 209 

17. Hau ani with head carved to represent the markings on the base of 

the hornbill's beak 212 

18. £'a// rcT/^, the insignium of chieftainship 221 

19. Hornbill derivatives on the posts of Airava marea of Abotaiara (Waima) 235 

20. Designs on marea posts derived from the markings on the mandible of 

the hornbill 235 

21. Plan of posts supporting anterior open portion of large marea of Mou . 239 

22. Carved planks in the British Museum 241 

23. Board belonging to the Ovia itsipana of Koae Kupunu itsubu of Siria 

village 243 

24. Board belonging to the Ovia awarina of Koae Kupunu itsubu of Siria 

village 243 

25. Ornamental board of bull-roarer shape 245 

26. Papares exhibited upon Waidara marea of Waima 246 

List of Text Figures xxiii 


27. Marea ornaments : {a) sun and vulva design, {b) dogs' teeth, {c) ornament 

made of dried grass 248 

22). lu 262 

29. Necklace found in sorcerer's bag 283 

30. Objects found in sorcerer's bag 285 

31. Necklace found in sorcerer's bag 286 

32. Sword of swordfish mounted as a comb ; a kangakanga of Ongofoina . 326 

33. Diagrammatic representation of a board on the house of the chief of 

Inawi with conventional rendering of lopia pao .... 347 

34. Plan of the hamlets of the Discovery Bay community .... 424 

35. Plan of the hamlets of Tubetube 429 

36. Plan of a Bartle Bay jnelagai 433 

yj. Diagram showing relationship of the inhabitants of the six Wagawaga 

Pupuna houses 478 

38. Diagram showing relationship of the inhabitants of the five houses of 

Kanabwahi 480 

39. A bone spatula {potumd) from Wagawaga 515 

40. GabaieraixQTXvyWs\TS\2i . . . 516 

41. Dona and shell imitation 519 

42. Bracelet made from human jaw bone . 558 

43. Gwara 579 

44. Plan of houses built for walaga ceremony (H. Newton) .... 599 

45. Designs on horizontal bearers of houses built for walaga ceremony . 600 

46. Map of the Trobriand Group 659 

47. Sketch of Kiriwina showing districts 661 

48. Carving of human-headed bird and head of reef-heron exhibited on 

Trobriand houses ( x ^) 685 

49. Spatula made of human bone 719 

50. Turtle-shell ornament ( x ^ removed from zygoma of a skull exposed in 

a cleft in rocks at Murua 731 




























































, line 10, /or platyrine rea^/ platyrhine. 

, line II, /or hyperplatyrine r<?«^ hyperplatyrhine. 

, fourth line from bottom, /or Western Papuans read Western Papuo- 


', line 25, /or Kerapunu read Kerepunu. 

, line 25, /or Hulaa read Hula. 

, line 4 of footnote, /or Chapter LXXI. read Chapter XXI. 

, line 21, for Kaile read Gaile. 

, line 35, and page 48, line 3, /or Kila Kila read Kilakila. 

, in subheading /^r IDUHU KETAIKE read ROHI KETAIKE. 

, line 8, /or Pare read Pari. 

, line 35, /or Wamai read Waima. 

, line 36, for turuturu read gorugoru. 

, line 9, for venedaire read vendairi. 

, line 5, for buibu read buibui. 

, line 6, for roru read roro. 

, line 7, for yaya read yaiya. 

, line iSy/or Gaseri read Gasiri. 

, line 4 of footnote, /or W. B. Fearnsides read W. G. Fearnsides. 

, line 33, for maire read mairi. 


, line 5, /or Marihau read Marehau. 

, in first column of table of pangua, /or ofa read Biofa. 

, end of table of clans, /or Dabodabo read Dabodabobo. 

, first column, line 8, /<7r Menabiri read Manabiri. 

, heading, /or wagawaga and tubetube read wagawaga. 

, after line 35 insert heading TUBETUBE. 

, line 19, for kerepa read keripa. 

, line 24, for giaana read gidana. 

, line 7, /or Amphletta read Amphletts. 

, line 4, and page 714, line 16, /or M. N. Gilmour read M. K. Gilmour. 

. J>r»e 3, /or Father Tomassin read Father Thomassin. 


It has long been recognized that the inhabitants of New 
Guinea present extraordinary differences In physical charac- 
teristics and culture, Indeed, the contrast between the 
relatively tall, dark skinned, frizzly haired inhabitants of 
Torres Straits, the Fly River and the neighbouring parts of 
New Guinea on the one hand, and the smaller lighter coloured 
peoples of that part of the coast line, stretching from the east 
of Cape Possession to the archipelagos of the eastern extremity 
of the Possession, is so striking that the two peoples must be 
recognized as racially distinct. 

Directly the full significance of these distinctions Is realized 
the term Papuan which has been applied to the dark skinned 
frizzly haired natives of Western New Guinea, and also used 
to denote the inhabitants of the whole of New Guinea, becomes 
unsuitable for the latter purpose. Accordingly I propose to use 
the term Papuaslan to signify all the inhabitants of New 
Guinea and its archipelagos. 

The term ' Papuan ' will not be discarded but will be 
limited to the geographically more western Papuasians, a 
congeries of frizzly haired and often mop-headed peoples, 
whose skin colour is some shade of brownish black. The 
eastern Papuasians that Is, the generally smaller, lighter 
coloured, frizzly haired races of the eastern peninsula of New 
Guinea and its archipelagos now require a name, and since 
the true Melanesian element is dominant in them, they may 
be called Papuo-Melaneslans. With regard to these eastern 
Papuasians, Dr A. C. H addon first recognized that they came 
into the country as the result of a ' Melanesian migration into 
New Guinea,' and further, 'that a single wandering would not 
account for certain puzzling facts\' 

^ The Decorative Art of British New Guinea^ 1894, p. 267. 
S. N. G. I 

2 Introduction 

I have discussed this suggestion and the principles under- 
lying the terminology which I use in this book elsewhere\ so 
that I need only say that I thoroughly agree with Dr H addon's 
conclusion and shall call the two great divisions of the Papuo- 
Melanesians the Massim (Eastern Papuo-Melanesians) and the 
Western Papuo-Melanesians respectively. 

Although differences of colour and of size are generally 
the most obvious physical characters differentiating the 
peoples of the southern coast of British New Guinea, living 
respectively east and west of Cape Possession, there are 
certain other racial characteristics to which it is necessary to 
allude. The Papuan is generally taller and is more consis- 
tently dolichocephalic than the Papuo-Melanesian ; he is 
always darker, his usual colour being a dark chocolate or 
sooty brown ; his head is high and his face, is as a rule, long 
with prominent brow-ridges, above which his rather flat fore- 
head commonly slopes backwards. The Papuo-Melanesian 
head is usually less high and the brow ridges less prominent, 
while the forehead is commonly rounded and not retreating. 
The Papuan nose is longer and stouter and is often so arched 
as to present the outline known as 'Jewish.' The character 
of its bridge varies, typically the nostrils are broad and 
the tip of the nose is often hooked downwards. In the Papuo- 
Melanesian the nose is generally smaller; both races have 
frizzly hair, but while this is universal among Papuans, curly 
and even wavy hair is common among both divisions of Papuo- 
Melanesians. Plate I represents a woman of the Nara tribe 
(Western Papuo-Melanesian) with wavy hair. 

Although this book is concerned only with certain of the 
immigrant Melanesian (Papuo-Melanesian) tribes of British 
New Guinea it has been necessary to allude to some of the 
more important physical characters of the Papuans not only 
to contrast them with similar characters in the immigrant 
Melanesians, but because there is evidence that the immigrants 
have mixed with the Papuans at various places and times. For 
the same reason it will be necessary to consider some aspects 
of the culture of the Papuan tribes and to contrast them with 
the corresponding customs of the immigrant Melanesians. 
Plate II is a photograph, for which I am indebted to Captain 
Barton, of two men of Port Moresby. The shorter and 

* *A Classification of the Natives of British New Guinea,' /^«^«. Roy.Anthrop\ 
Inst. Vol. XXXIX. 1909. 

Plate I 

Pokao woman 

Two men of Hanuabada (Port Moresby) 

Introduction 3 

slighter of these men presents qualities of build and feature 
which I regard as typical of one great division of the Papuo- 
Melanesians, the other, a somewhat taller man, seems to me 
to present certain Papuan features, a longer narrower face, a 
more beaklike nose and stronger limbs, in the place of the 
rounder and less harsh features of the immigrant Melanesians. 

Port Moresby is situated so far east of Cape Possession, 
the present coastal limit of the Papuan tribes, that recent 
contact metamorphosis can safely be excluded and we thus 
reach the conclusion that the immigrant Melanesians have 
been actually superimposed on a former Papuan population. 
Once this idea is formulated a large number of facts appear 
to support it. Thus the physical difference between the two 
men shown in Plate II, both living at Port Moresby, can 
equally be found among the Sinaugolo, occupying the grassy 
uplands inland from the coast 60 miles east of Port Moresby, 
while the Sinaugolo who speak a Melanesian dialect scarcely 
differ from the Garia, their neighbours with whom they have 
long lived on most friendly terms, but who speak a Papuan 

The Massim and the Western Papuo- Melanesians differ 
from each other physically, but on account of the considerable 
amount of variation within each of these great divisions these 
differences cannot be satisfactorily expressed without frequent 
and detailed references to the measurements taken by others as 
well as myself, which would be quite out of place in the present 
volume. I may however indicate that whereas the Massim 
(who vary comparatively little in cultural characteristics) show a 
more or less orderly change from west to east, from short- 
statured dolichocephaly to brachycephaly associated with 
increase of stature\ the Western Papuo-Melanesians exhibit no 

^ The inhabitants of the D'Entrecasteaux group appear to be the most 
doHchocephalic of the Massim. Sergi has examined ii8 skulls of both sexes 
from Dawson Straits, i.e. presumably the villages fringing the straits between 
Fergusson and Goodenough Islands ; the average cranial index (in round numbers) is 
73 (min. 65, max. 88). This agrees well with the index of 73 given by a series 
of 34 skulls collected from a cave at Awaiama in Chads Bay. This cave was said 
to be the depository of skulls brought over from Goodenough or Fergusson, though 
it is possible that the skulls are in fact those of the inhabitants of Chads Bay 
or the coastal Taupota villages just east of it. The average cephalic index of 
8 Goodenough natives is 75, so that if the two units usually deducted from living 
cephalic indices to make them comparable with skull indices be subtracted here 
the Uving and skull indices give identical figures. Two out of 1 1 Fergusson 
men measured were under 1*470 m. — i.e. considerably under 58 inches — while the 
average of the whole 11 men was 1530 m. (6o| in.). Seven Goodenough natives 
were taller averaging r588 m. (62^ in.). Passing to the mainland, 10 men of 

4 Introduction 

such orderly arrangement. But in spite of the many cultural 
and physical differences between the two divisions of Papuo- 
Melanesians they agree in certain cultural and physical 
characters which differentiate them from the true Papuans. 
Reference has already been made to the occurrence of wavy 
hair in both divisions, while on the cultural side they agree in 
the absence of long and rigid seclusion ceremonies for boys at 
puberty which seems a Papuan characteristic and is certainly 
found among Papuan tribes from Cape Possession to beyond 
the Netherlands boundary. 

Many of the Papuo-Melanesians (including all the Massim) 
speak languages with a common Melanesian grammar. 
These languages are divisible into groups, the constituent 
languages of each of which contain numbers of common 
words, all related to the common stock language of Oceania. 
With the Papuan languages it is otherwise ; with regard 
to vocabulary they present a number of apparently unrelated 
stock languages, while of their grammar it can only be said 
that thoueh a number of them conform to certain rules, it is 
clear that none of them present Melanesian characters. A 
great difference is also seen in the system of enumeration of 
the two races. While the Papuo- Melanesian counts easily 
by the quinary or vigesimal system, the Papuan has only two 
numerals, one and two, and counts with certainty only up to 
five or six by combining these. 

Wagawaga, which lies almost at the head of Milne Bay, give an average cranial 
index of 74, and 10 skulls from Milne Bay give an index of 73. Nine of the skulls 
are dolichocephalic and one brachycephalic with an index of 82. Much the same 
condition of things appears to prevail in the neighbourhood of East Cape, where 
five skulls from Nuakata (Lydia Island) including one brachycephal give an 
average index of 74. In the neighbourhood of the South Cape the average of 
seven skulls had risen to 76 (min. 71, max. 81). 

The inhabitants of Tubetube in the Engineer group situated about halfway 
between Milne Bay and the Louisiades allege that they originally came from the 
eastern end of Duau (Normanby) ; the average index of 10 men was 74 (extremes 
71 and 75) and their average stature 1*555 m. (61 in.). 

Passing eastwards to the Louisiades there is a general rise in the cephalic 
index. The average of nine men, only one of whom was dolichocephalic, while 
three were brachycephalic, was 79. Measurements of 15 men from Gawa and 
Kwaiwata in the Marshall Bennet group give an average cephalic index of 80 
showing that these islanders are predominantly brachycephals or high mesati- 
cephals, the latter conclusion being borne out by the average cranial index of "jj 
(min. 70, max. 91) derived from 35 skulls collected on Kwaiawata. 

The stature of the Marshall Bennet Islanders is low, 1*577 m. (about 62 in.), 
though in other physical qualities they resemble the Trobriand Islanders who are 
taller, the average stature of 20 men being 1*609 m. (63^ in.). 

Passing still further west the average of 37 Murua skulls examined by Sergi is 
79 and the average of the stature of six men 1-640 m. (64^ in.). 

Introduction 5 

The sketch-map on page 6 indicates approximately the 
distribution of Papuans and Papuo-Melanesians and the two 
divisions of the latter are also indicated ; the condition of the 
unshaded area is not known with certainty. It will be seen 
that the Papuans occupy the greater part of the Possession 
extending eastwards from the Netherlands boundary to a line 
which runs approximately from Cape Possession in the south 
to Cape Nelson on the north coast. To the south of the main 
range the transition takes place about 147 deg. E. while to the 
north of the range it occurs in the neighbourhood of 149 deg. 
E., to the east of which lies the territory of the Massim, con- 
sisting of the eastern extremity of New Guinea and its many 
archipelagos. The Western Papuo-Melanesians occupy the 
remaining area, being found along the south coast from 
Cape Possession to the neighbourhood of Orangerle Bay 
or Mulllns' Harbour, and extending inland into the high 
mountains which form the backbone of the Possession. 

This distribution suggests an explanation of the greater 
variability of the Western Papuo-Melanesians to which I have 
already alluded. Even if the Islands and eastern peninsula of 
New Guinea were fairly thickly populated by Papuans at the 
time of the Massim Invasion, they would not have offered such 
refuges and facilities for resistance as did the mainland. Indeed, 
while the condition actually existing in the Massim area 
suggests that there was no slow mingling of the invaders with 
a previous stock, the geographical features of the territory of 
the Western Papuo-Melanesians with its hills, mountains and 
swamps, are such, that invaders could not have speedily over- 
run the country, nor fail to have been influenced by the original 
inhabitants as they spread slowly from the coast. 

Thus we should expect to find a certain amount of Papuan 
blood in all, or almost all, of the tribes of the Western Papuo- 
Melanesians and this is the condition that actually prevails. 
The Western Papuo-Melaneslan tribes not only have a very con- 
siderable Papuan element In their composition but many speak 
Papuan languages, which, as in the case of Papuan languages 
spoken by Papuans, may show no common features inter se. 
The existence of Papuo-Melaneslan tribes speaking perfectly 
distinct Papuan languages suggests a reason for the great range 
of variation met with among the Western Papuo-Melanesians, 
for there Is no reason why the different Papuan peoples who 
modified the incoming Melaneslans to the extent of imposing 

















Introduction 9 

their languages upon them should not also have imposed their 
customs, or at least modified those of the invaders, as mis- 
cegenation modified their physical type. 

Having somewhat cleared the ground I may now attempt 
a short preliminary survey of the culture of the two great 
divisions of the Papuo-Melanesians. Although we know 
more of the Western Papuo-Melanesians than the Massim I 
shall consider the latter first in as much as they present a 
number of particularly well defined features and speaking 
generally vary less than their western neighbours. 

Ignoring Rossel Island at the eastern extremity of the 
Louisiade Archipelago because of our very slight know- 
ledge thereof, the Massim area is bounded on the east by the 
154th parallel of east longitude, on the north and south by the 
8th and 12th degrees of south latitude respectively, and on 
the west, where its exact limit is unknown, by a line which 
roughly follows the 149th parallel and which, as already 
stated, may provisionally be regarded as running from the 
neighbourhood of Orangerie Bay on the south coast of the 
Possession to the neighbourhood of Cape Nelson on the 
norths This area can be divided into two parts, a small 
northern portion comprising the Trobriands, the Marshall 
Bennets, the Woodlarks (Murua) as well as a number of smaller 
islands such as the Lauglans (Nada) and a far larger southern 
portion comprising the remainder of the Massim domain. 
The northern portion is characterized by the absence of 
cannibalism, which, until put down by the Government, existed 
throughout the remaining portion of the district ; another 
peculiarity of the northern Massim is their recognition in each 
district or island (for the two may be coextensive) of a royal 
family ^ In this family there is an hereditary chieftainship 

1 The area so defined corresponds closely to the Eastern and South-Eastern 
administrative divisions of British New Guinea and includes the Trobriands and 
Marshall Bennet groups, the Woodlarks (Murua), the Louisiade and D'Entre- 
casteaux archipelagos, besides numerous smaller groups and islands scattered 
between East Cape and the Louisiades and between the D'Entrecasteaux and 
the Trobriands. Excluding the latter, the Marshall Bennets and a number of 
smaller scattered coral islands, the whole of the district with the exception of a 
narrow coastal flat is distinctly hilly or mountainous. Allowing for our very scanty 
knowledge of the geology of the D'Entrecasteaux group there is abundant 
evidence of fairly recent elevation throughout the district, indeed, Gawa and 
Kwaiawata in the Marshall Bennet group are perfect atolls elevated to a height 
of over 400 ft., their inhabitants living in the old lagoon bed out of sight and sound 
of the sea. 

2 Possibly Murua (the Woodlarks) may be an exception. 

8 Introdtiction 

which really commands respect and the holder of which 
exercises considerable authority. On the physical side both 
the cephalic index and cranial capacity of the northern group 
are found to be higher than elsewhere among the Massim, 
indeed, on these islands two types can be recognized towards 
one or other of which the majority of the male population 
inclines. The chief differences in these types can be ex- 
pressed by the nasal and facial indices. In one the nasal 
index is low mesorhine or even leptorhine and the face 
leptorosopic, while in the other type a platyrine or even 
hyper-platyrine nose is associated with a mesoprosopic or 
euryprosopic face. It does not seem that these linked qualities 
are especially associated with brachycephaly or dolichoce- 
phaly or with the quality of the hair, though it seems clear 
that in any given community individuals of the long-faced 
type are generally taller (often very notably so) than the 
individuals of the short-faced broad-nosed type, in whom the 
bridge of the nose is often low. Further, although I did not 
measure any Trobriand chiefs, the only two members of the 
royal house with whom I came in contact were of the long- 
faced tall type. Again, at Suloga on Murua and at Gawa in 
the Marshall Bennets certain men, who seemed to possess in 
a special measure the confidence of their comrades, and who 
certainly showed a degree of initiative or a readiness to help 
us in carrying out our plans which the majority of their 
companions did not, were also of this type. 

The inhabitants of these northern islands of the Massim 
share with the inhabitants of the Louisiades the art and craft 
of building the big sea-going canoes, waga, that play such an 
important part in the life of the district, and it is in these 
islands that the decorative art, characteristic of the whole of 
the Massim district, has reached its highest expression in 
the carving of the ornaments for the prows of the waga, 
and in the patterns used to decorate the Trobriand lime 

The dwellings of the communities of a great part of the 
Massim area are arranged in scattered groups which I propose 
to call hamlets. The members of each hamlet, excepting 
people who have married in or have been adopted, are closely 
related by blood, and are, or should be, of one clan, but in 
each community there may be, and usually are, a number of 
hamlets belonging to each of its constituent clans, each hamlet 

Introduction 9 

having Its own name and exercising a considerable degree of 

I use the term hamlet-group for the whole of the dwellings 
of a community, as it does not seem to me that the word 
village should be used for these scattered groups of houses 
and also for the compact and relatively large settlements 
which occur in other parts of New Guinea and even in some 
parts of the Massim area, as for instance the Trobriands. 
One of the most notable features about the communities of 
the extreme south-east of New Guinea and the neighbouring 
islands is the impermanence of portions of many apparently 
substantial communities ; two or three hamlets may leave the 
community and settle elsewhere, perhaps on an island thirty 
or forty miles distant. For this reason, and on account of 
the small size of many hamlet-groups and the intimate 
relations existing between many fairly distant communities, 
I have avoided the use of the word ' tribe ' in the Massim 
district as only likely to produce confusion. 

The most characteristic cultural feature of the Massim 
is the existence of a peculiar form of totemism with matri- 
lineal descent. The members of each clan have as totems a 
series of associated animals belonging to different classes of 
the organic kingdom ; ordinarily these linked totems are a 
bird, a fish, a snake and a plant, but a four-footed vertebrate 
(such as the monitor lizard or the crocodile) may be added to 
each series of linked totems, while one of the orders of the 
living kingdom which should be represented in the series of 
linked totems may be absent in a given locality, thus only one 
Tubetube clan, and that of different origin to its neighbours, 
has a plant totem. Towards the north-western borders of 
the district the typical arrangement of the totems into a 
linked series belonging to different classes of living organisms 
has disappeared, and rocks may be added to the totem list, 
and in a few instances the series of totems may be reduced 
to one or two. In this district the totem snake is of particular 
Importance in some Instances and may even be regarded as the 
creator of the world. In spite of these local variations It is 
certain that special Importance is attributed to the bird totem 
over the greater part of the Massim area. This Is perhaps 
best shown In one of the first questions commonly asked of a 
stranger: 'What Is your bird.'^' So too. If a man be asked 
his totem, he will commonly give his bird totem only. 

lo Introdttction 

Exogamy is strictly observed. In the old days it was 
even considered improper for a man to sleep with a woman 
of his father's totem, and in villages in which girl-houses 
[pottona) existed, a man avoided sitting near a girl of his 
father's totem when visiting these houses. Although no one 
would marry a girl of his father's totem, this rule was not 
rigidly observed even two generations ago and some of the 
bolder or more amorous men would sleep with such girls. Now- 
adays the condition of things has changed for the worse, and 
pre-nuptial connection is not at all limited by the old clan 
rules, for, althoueh it is not considered orthodox for a man to 
visit a girl of his father's totem, no objection is ever raised to 
this practice ; certainly the non-observance of the rule is 
considered too small an infringement of the clan laws to 
bring any harm on the lovers or their kin. 

In some parts of the Massim district, e.g. Milne Bay and 
Bartle Bay, there is a dual or multiple grouping of the clans. 
Where this occurs, not only should no one marry into his or 
her own clan, but no one might take a mate from his or her 
own clan-group. In those communities in which a dual or 
multiple grouping of the clan exists this grouping regulates 
the terms by which every individual is addressed, and 
formerly it determined who should take part in the cannibal 
feast held to revenge a fellow villager killed by a hostile 
community. But with the extinction of warfare and cannibal 
feasts within the last few years the dual grouping has so 
fallen into decay as to be largely ignored in the regulation of 
marriage, although as already stated totem exogamy is still 
generally observed. 

It seems that men are not usually considered to partake 
of any of the qualities of their totem birds, fish or snakes. 

There are no totem shrines, and people are not believed 
to have particular influence over the birds or other animals 
which are their totems. There does not seem ever to have 
been any ceremony which had for its purpose the increasing 
of the totem, nor was there any tendency for a man to tame 
and keep his totem birds as pets ; in Milne Bay it was said 
that the keeping of pets was a habit recently introduced and 
learnt from Europeans. 

All over the district a man shows more regard for his 
father's totem than for his mother's which is also his own; 
that is to say, everyone avoids his or her father's totem far 

Introduction 1 1 

more rigidly than his own. It was alleged that a man might 
kill and even eat his own bird totem, though it seemed 
uncertain that he would actually eat it\ In any case it may 
be noted that with the exception of the pigeon, the bird totems 
of the Massim are birds that are not commonly considered 
good food, and that even where this is not the case, the natives 
of south-eastern New Guinea are not keen hunters of birds 
except such as provide feathers for dancing ornaments. It 
was said that a man would catch and eat his own totem fish, 
and there is no doubt of the accuracy of this information. It 
was further stated that a man would not hesitate to kill his 
totem snake if it lay across his track, or to destroy his totem 
plant whenever it was convenient to do so. 

On the other hand it was clear that no one would eat or 
destroy his father's totem birds, or would even approach a 
fire at which they were cooking. If a Milne Bay man saw his 
father's totem bird being killed he would go away for a short 
time or remonstrate with the killer, but he would not fight 
him, nor quarrel with him, and, with the exception of not 
touching the dead animal, he would show no special regard 
for it. If while fishing his father's totem fish were caught the 
fisherman would generally ask one of his companions to 
remove it from the net, but I do not think he would suggest 
that it should be returned to the water, though, on the other 
hand, he would not touch or eat it. 

The relation of a man to his father's totem plant was less 
clear; it seemed that he would generally avoid injuring it. 

No man would wear the feathers of his father's totem bird, 
although he would not hesitate to wear the feathers of his own 
totem bird. Indeed, these are his usual ornaments, and there 
is a feeling that it is especially appropriate that a man should 
wear the feathers of his totem bird, although he is not even 
theoretically limited to their use. The most commonly worn 
feathers are those of the white cockatoo ; with these the 
much rarer feathers of white individuals of the reef heron {boi) 
are worn when they can be obtained, but a man whose 
father's totem is the reef heron will avoid wearing the 

^ The only case in which it is clearly recorded that an individual ate his bird 
totem occurred in the Trobriands and was observed by Mr R. L. Bellamy to whom 
I am indebted for a note of the case. A hungry woman with the pigeon as her 
bird totem, ate a pigeon which Mr Bellamy had shot. Mr Bellamy states that 
although such conduct was not considered to be really evil, jt was certainly not 
a common practice or one exempt from criticism. 

1 2 Introdtiction 

feathers of the rare white variety of this bird ; while a man, 
whose father s totem is the cockatoo, will not wear this bird's 
feathers, but substitutes feathers of white individuals of the 
reef heron when these can be obtained. No information 
concerning the origin of bird, fish or snake totems could 
be obtained except in the northern portion of the area, 
in the Trobriands and Marshall Bennets, but a somewhat 
trivial legend accounting for the origin of plant totems was 
discovered at Milne Bay. 

Totem birds, snakes and fishes are commonly represented 
upon houses and canoe prows, and upon lime spatulae and net 
floats and, in fact, upon practically all the wooden utensils and 
ornaments of the Massim. These carvings are executed by 
any man who has the necessary skill and art, and it is certain 
that no man is limited in his designs to the use of his own 
totems or the totems of the man for whom he is carving. In 
many places, including Milne Bay, certain totem animals have 
passed into the general art of the district, and in this connec- 
tion their limitation to a particular group of people has been 
entirely forgotten, so that although the dominant patterns of 
a given area may be derived from an animal which is the 
totem of only a few people, and although it may be recognized 
that the pattern really does represent the totem of a small 
group of people, it is nevertheless used indifferently as a 
means of decorating the houses and utensils of folk whose 
totem it is, and of those entirely unconnected with it. 

The worship of supernatural beings does not occur in 
those parts of the district with which I am acquainted, and 
though numerous mythical beings and ogres are believed to 
exist they are not propitiated. Speaking generally the dead 
pass under the earth to the ' other world ' where they are 
received by an old man who has always been there and who 
assigns to each his place, but this old man exerts no power 
over the living. The spirits of the dead are little regarded, 
but I came to the conclusion that they were considered, 
though in no very formal or definite manner, to know when 
the more important mourning feasts were held. It did not, 
however, seem that these spirits were commonly supposed to 
be present at the feasts, although the idea that these cere- 
monies are in fact held to ' lay ' the spirits of the deceased is 
perhaps their most reasonable interpretation. It must, how- 
ever, be realized that this is nothing more than a working 

Introduction 13 

hypothesis, and that apart from this Idea two definite beliefs 
can be traced through the tangled skein of death customs 
and observance. 

The first is that an individual's death primarily concerns 
the dead man's hamlet and one other hamlet of his clan with 
which certain death feasts are exchanged, other members of 
the clan being comparatively little affected. The second 
belief is, that it is necessary for all people not of the dead 
man's clan to dissociate themselves from him and all that 
belonged to him in every possible way\ This is the more 
remarkable since in such parts of the Massim district as were 
visited it was obvious that the spirits, ghosts, or shades of the 
deceased inspired no particular fear and were not thought to 
haunt, or even to visit, the scenes of their former existence. 
Nor could I discover that the shades brought disease and bad 
luck upon mankind or punished the latter If their funeral rites 
were neglected, or that in the opposite event they helped the 
living. On the contrary, in spite of a vague and ill-defined 
fear of the dead, the doctrine was held that the shades kept 
strictly to the ' other world ' and that the only intelligent 
communication between the two worlds occurred when certain 
men — strong In magical power — visited the other world of 
their own free will. 

The house in which a married man or woman has died is 
very commonly allowed to rot or is destroyed, either im- 
mediately after his death or on the decease of the surviving 
partner^ The detailed accounts of the ceremonies and feasts 
following a death both at Wagawaga and Tubetube given in 

^ In the light of our present very incomplete knowledge it seems that this does 
not apply to the Trobriands, the Marshall Bennets and Murua, but it certainly 
holds good over the southern portion of the Massim area. 

2 Although the motives prompting the destruction of a house under these 
circumstances are avowedly doubtful, it seems probable that it is done, not on 
account of any fear of death as such, but because of the feeling (of which 
examples are given elsewhere) that any intimate association with objects connected 
with the dead of foreign clans is to be avoided at almost any cost. It may be 
suggested that the house of a married individual has been so intimately associated 
with the deceased man or woman, a member of a strange clan, that it may be 
regarded as having in some measure become identical with the dead stranger, 
so that after his death it becomes unfit to continue in existence among the folk of 
the hamlet. The custom, if this point of view be correct, is in fact an example 
of the intense dislike and horror which the natives have of anything associated 
with the dead of other clans and falls into line with such customs as the 
avoidance under all circumstances of the graves in which people of other 
clans have been buried, as well as the particularly strong objection that exists 
to the mention of the name of a dead husband or wife in the presence of the 
surviving partner. 



chapter XLVi abounds in instances which show that even 
so close a relative as a child dissociates himself from every^ 
thing that concerned his father, that man of another clan, 
although the actual physical bond of relationship is fully 
recognized, and no Papuo-Melanesian ever thinks of treating 
his father with anything but kindness and respect however 
old and helpless he may become. 

In some matters it even seems that the bond of close 
relationship exaggerates the horror of all that pertained to 
a dead man of another clan. Thus a man would fight if 
the name of his dead father or paternal uncle were mentioned 
in his presence, but it would only be a breach of etiquette 
entailing no immediate or even remote unpleasantness, to 
mention the name of some remote dead relative of his father's 
clan. Again the careful avoidance of taking food from a 
dead father's hamlet or of going there does not apply to the 
other hamlets of the dead man's clan, though a death might 
have occurred recently in these hamlets. The intense horror 
with which a dead father is regarded and the rigid avoidance 
of all that concerned him is excellently illustrated by an 
incident which occurred at Tubetube. 

Mr A. H. Dunning while working at Paie hamlet having 
occasion to photograph certain baskets and being unsatisfied 
with the light in the hamlet, took the baskets in one hand and 
with his camera in the other, proceeded to look for a suitable 
place in which to photograph them ; in doing so he passed near 
a heap of stones on which there was some vegetation, with 
the result that there was an instant outcry among the natives 
from whom he had borrowed the baskets. On making inquiries 
as to the reason, I found that he had taken the baskets close 
to the grave in which was buried the father of the owner of 
one of the more valuable baskets of the kind called sinapopo. 
The owner of this basket absolutely refused to take it back, 
saying that if food were put into it, and if he afterwards ate 
of such food, he would certainly die in consequence. 

The decorative art of the Massim area is extremely 
characteristic and is distinguished by the occurrence through- 
out almost the whole area of well executed wood carving, 
much of which shows real aesthetic feeling. The predominant 
77iotif of this carving is the conventional representation of 
totem animals, the forms of which often degenerate into the 
spiral patterns so common throughout the district. 

Introduction 1 5 

Among the crafts the most noteworthy features of the 
district are the built up canoes, the largest of which, called 
waga, are chiefly constructed on the raised coral islands 
occupying the northern part of the area. These are handy 
and at the same time very safe outrigger boats of com- 
paratively large carrying capacity, and are used alike on raids 
and for carrying merchandise all over those parts of the 
district with which I am acquainted. 

Pots are made with a varying amount of skill in different 
parts of the district and constitute an important article of 
export from Tubetube, Wari and the Amphlett group, but 
with the possible exception of the Amphlett pots the 
decoration of these vessels falls far below the standard attained 
in wood carving or exhibited in the burnt patterns commonly 
found on Trobriand lime gourds^ 

The most interesting as well as perhaps the most 
important articles manufactured within the district, are the 
stone adzes and the ceremonial axe blades, which until 
recently were made upon Murua by the inhabitants of Suloga, 
from a volcanic ash and a lava, out-crops of both of which 
occur upon Murua below Suloga peak. The Suloga adze 
blades were formerly traded from hand to hand for many 
hundreds of miles, passing westwards at least as far as the 
Papuan Gulf, while on the north coast of the Possession they 
are found to the west of Cape Nelson^ 

On the other hand, the ceremonial adze blades formerly 
made at Suloga do not pass beyond the south-eastern district, 
though within this area they are everywhere greatly valued 
and used as currency in the brisk trade which is carried on 
between the archipelagos. 

The common weapon is the spear ; the bow and arrow 
and stone headed club are everywhere absent, their place 
being taken by slings and the very characteristic hard wood 
sword, the blade of w^hich is usually delicately carved. 

It is far more difficult to give a summary of the cultural 
characteristics of the Western J^apuans than of the Massim for' ^'^\^^^- ^^' 
the differences between tribes which must be included in this ('V^'" 
division is far greater than occurs among the Massim. It is 
however possible to make certain broad statements concerning 

^ The Tubetube as well as the Wari pots are built up of strips of clay as 
described by Dr H. O. Forbes in Tke Decorative Art of British New Guinea^ p. 223. 

^ For an account of the site from which this stone was obtained and its 
manufacture into adze blades, see Seligmann and Strong, 'Anthropological 
Investigations in British New Guinea,' Geographical Jour7ial^ 1906, pp. 348 et seq 

1 6 Introdtiction 

the social organization of the Western Papuo-Melanesian tribes. 
Up to the present time no tribe of this group is known which 
has not a clan organization or the remains of one, and in all 
these tribes clan descent is patrilineal'. In a number of 
tribes there are signs of a former totemic condition, or at least 
of a stage in which animals were of importance in the beliefs 
of the people". 

With the exception of the Motu tribe, exogamy is the 
absolute rule in all those tribes with which I am personally- 
acquainted, and I have little doubt that it runs through the 
whole series. 

The coastal tribes of the neighbourhood of Port Moresby 
may be regarded as the typical representatives of the Western 
Papuo-Melanesians. The best known of these tribes is the 
Motu, with whom must be reckoned the Koita, a tribe 
speaking a Papuan language who have for generations inter- 
married with the Motu and whose villages are usually built 
near, or even in direct continuity with those of the Motu. 
Although the Koita still speak a Papuan language the 
majority of the males speak Motu, a Melanesian language, 
and have adopted to a greater or lesser extent certain Motu 
customs, such as the hiri, the annual trading voyage to the 
Papuan Gulf, while their women make pots, an art learnt from 
the Motu. Fourteen Motu men in whom there was avowedly 
more or less Koita blood gave an average cephalic index of 
76 (min. 71, max. 81). The average stature of fifteen men 
is 1*621 m. (about 64 ins.), but this includes one exceptionally 
tall man of i'820 m. (7 if in.). 

The rare occurrence of somewhat oblique eyes among 
the coastal tribes of the central district must be noted. 
They may be associated with curly or typically frizzly hair x 
and were first described by Stone who writing of the Koiari " 
says that in a few ' the eyes are slightly Mongolian, like those 
of Siamesel' 

^ Traces of mother right still exist, and are most numerous among the Mekeo 
tribes. At Veifa a child is commonly given one of its mother's names and although 
descent is usually patrilineal among the Mekeo, chieftainship may descend through 
the female line. The ceremony performed when a Roro boy first assumes the 
perineal band (described in chapter xxi) is clearly reminiscent of a condition in which 
the relatives of the mother were of preponderant importance. 

* The evidence upon which this statement is made is especially to be found in 
chapters XX and xxvii. 

^ A Few Months in New Guinea^ London, 1880, p. 164, quoted by Haddon 
{Decorative Art^ p. 158). I have myself seen oblique eyes among the Koita 
and Motu and at Hula, while Captain Barton informs me that he has noticed them 
at Aroma. 


Plate III 

Ahuia Ova 

Introduction 17 

The villages of the Motu and closely allied tribes include 
the great Hanuabada (Port Moresby) settlement and stretch 
along the coast from Redscar Head to Kapakapa, while 
in the neighbourhood of Kapakapa and stretching inland 
are three tribes the Ikoro, the Gaboni and the Sinaugolo 
all closely resembling the Motu. Another tribe called 
Balagwaia living somewhat to the east of the Sinaugolo is 
said to be hardly distinguishable from these, but of this 
tribe I have no personal knowledge\ The Ikoro and Gaboni 
are two small tribes whose villages are situated within a few 
miles of the sea. The Sinaugolo are a powerful and influential 
tribe whose villages extend from the edge of the hilly country 
some three miles from the coast behind Kapakapa, up the 
valleys of the Kemp Welch river and its tributaries, the 
Hunter and the Musgrave rivers. 

The general appearance of the men of this group will 
be gathered from the photograph of the two Port Moresby 
men (Plate H) already referred to, while as a further 
example of a typical Western Papuo-Melanesian I may 
instance Ahuia, the hereditary chief of the Port Moresby 
Koita, whose full face portrait is given in Plate HP. 

The Motu and their kindred tribes, already enumerated, 
are the only coastal people among whom the open ceremonial 
platforms called dubu exist, while among the Motu them- 
selves Tupuselei and Gaile are the only settlements which 
have large dubu^. It must, however, be remembered that 
although Tupuselei is Motu-speaking, the tribal name of its 
people is Lakwaharu and they differ in some customs from 
the Motu of the Port Moresby villages, thus, they do not fit 
out lakatoi for the hiri^. With regard to Gaile, its inhabitants 
admit that it formerly contained a foreign ' bush ' element, and 
state that the founders of this now thoroughly Motu settle- 

^ Mr A. C. English states that this tribe has two big villages named Gemaboro 
and Taurupu, both with big open dubu. 

2 Ahuia, who was my chief informant concerning the sociology of the Koita, 
has a good knowledge of English, which he can write intelligibly. He also made 
a number of the native drawings which are reproduced in the chapters on the Koita, 
though I believe that the most elaborate of these are by Rabura" of Kilakila 

^ Information concerning the dubu is given in chapters ii and Xll. These 
chapters also contain figures of dubu. 

* Lakatoi are the composite craft consisting of a number of dug out canoes of 
the kind called asi used by the Motu on their sago trading expeditions to the 
Papuan Gulf. The conduct of these expeditions which are called hiri is described 
by Captain Barton in chapter vin of the Koita section of this volume. 

S. N. G. 2 

1 8 Introduction 

ment were two 'bushmen' whose names De Bori and Gai 
Bori have been preserved. So that even if it be admitted that 
the Motu once made use of the dubu the custom was 
apparently obsolescent in many villages before the advent 
of European influence, and it is perhaps more reasonable to 
believe that the dtibu and its associated customs, which are 
most vigorous in the hill zone behind the coast, never took 
any firm hold of the purest of the Motu immigrants. 

At the present day the open dubu are bigger, better 
carved, and appear to play a larger part in the life of the 
people in the Rigo district (that is, among the Sinaugolo, 
Garia and related tribes) than elsewhere, and according to the 
Sinaugolo it was among themselves that the dubu originated, 
being later adopted by the neighbouring tribes. 

Their legend states that when the Sinaugolo came forth 
from their ancestral cave on the slopes of Mount Taborogoro, 
they had with them one carved post and taking this as their 
model made three others like it, and these posts became the 
corner posts of the first Sinaugolo dubu in their village on 
Taborogoro. Considering the size of the older Sinaugolo 
dubu and the importance attached to them, it is not unlikely 
that the open dubu originated with them or a cognate tribe in 
the neighbourhood of Taborogoro, and thence spread in a 
south-westerly direction towards the coast and westwards in 
the mountains through the Manukoro and Koiari territories 
behind the Koita-Motu domain towards the main range. It is 
at least certain that the Sinaugolo have migrated towards the 
coast from the neighbourhood of Taborogoro, while the Garia 
with whom they are connected by legend as well as politically, 
have migrated westwards across their track, each tribe 
carrying with them their dubu customs and in the case of 
the Sinaugolo quickly building one or more dubu in each 
settlement they formed. The same thing probably happened 
among the Garia, but I am not well enough acquainted with 
their villages or their history to be able to do more than 
make this suggestion. The Sinaugolo legend already referred 
to tells how, long ago, the Garia and Sinaugolo who, then as 
now spoke different languages, lived on the east side of the 
Kemp Welch river in a hole in the earth on Mt. Taborogoro. 
In time they increased in number and reached the surface of 
the earth, the Sinaugolo going in one direction and the Garia 
in another. After the Sinaugolo, or the Taborogoro Taliman 



as they were then called, left Taborogoro they reached various 
village sites, and were known by the names of these sites, until 
they reached a mountain which they speak of as Sinaugolo 
where apparently they settled for some time and whence they 
took their present name. After many splittings and wanderings 
their advanced guard finally came to the very edge of the 
coastal plain which here stretches some three miles inland, 
where they founded the village of Gumori Dobo. Although 
this village hugged the edge of the hills, it was the first 
settlement of the Sinaugolo which was actually on the coastal 
plain, so that its dubu was named Ligodubu and its folk were 
sometimes known as Ligo Taliman and the first settlers took 
Ligo (Rigo) as the name of their clan {dogoro). The word 
ligo means 'gone down,' i.e. come down from the hills, and 
ligo taliman means simply ' men who have come down from 
the hills.' 

Passing eastwards along the coast a somewhat different 
type is found extending from the Hood peninsula east- 
wards at least as far as the Aroma villages, the most 
important of which is Maopa. I do not know whether this 
group extends further to the east than the Upugau river, 
provisionally we may consider this river as its eastern 
boundary. So defined, this group includes the villages of 
the Hood Peninsula^ together with Kwaipo, Hula, Kerepunu 

1 Dr Haddon says : ' The peninsula is divided into five lands, belonging to the 
Kalo, Kamali, Babaka, Makirupu, Oloko and Diriga people. The last three 
villages were so decimated by sickness some three generations ago that there 
were few survivors, and the smaller numbers that still remain have recently been 
driven to Babaka by the Bulaa. The Bulaa people have planted many coconuts 
on the land, but the greater part belong to the three tribes mentioned.. ..The 
Kamali state they have been in occupation for ten generations, and that the land 
was unoccupied at the time of their first settlement on it. 

The village of Bulaa, or Hula, as it is generally called, consists of four groups 
of pile-dwellings in the sea, each group having its distinctive name. The Bulaa 
people have occupied this shore for about thirty-eight years only. Formerly they 
lived in the village of .^lukune, or Harukunu, which is adjacent to Keapara 
(Kerepunu). For generations the former have been subservient to the latter, who 
have been in the habit of levying toll from them in the shape of fish and other 
marine produce. The Alukune possessed no land, and were not allowed to acquire 
any, though their masters of Keapara had more than enough for their own wants. 
Vegetable food being a necessity, they bought it from the Keapara, giving fish 
in exchange, which Keapara, being the stronger tribe, were able to obtain at a 
very cheap rate. They were not only oppressed in this and other ways, but their 
women were seized and taken as wives by Keapara men. Half of the village, 
driven to desperation by the oppressions of these people, left in a body and settled 
at Hood Point, and built the village of Bulaa. Tlie other half who remained were 
still held in subjection by Keapara, and their condition was but little improved 
since the old days until very recently, and even now they do not appear to be in a 
happy or thriving condition. 

20 Introduction 

and Aroma. The men of this group are on the whole taller and 
more brachycephalic than their eastern neighbours, while on 
the cultural side the group is distinguished from its western 
neighbours by not possessing open diibti, their place being 
taken by house dubuy which are usually spoken of as steeple- 
houses on account of the lofty spire which each possesses. 
These steeple-houses, called koge by the folk of the Hood 
Peninsula, seem strictly limited to this group and I am not 
certain whether these houses are found among its most 
eastern villages, that is at Aroma\ 

Structurally these koge are the finest buildings in British 
New Guinea west of the Papuan Gulf; Plate IV of a Kalo 
house dubu gives a good idea of the general appearance from 
the front of one of these structures, but it conveys little idea 
of the length of the building or of the massive quality of the 
posts which support it, features which are more readily 
appreciated in a side or even in a back view of the structure. 

From Redscar Bay eastwards along the coast to Kapa- 
kapa and beyond in the Ikoro villages, that is to say through- 
out the area in which the open dubu occurs, skull trophies 
are not kept, but directly the open dubu gives place to the 
house dubu an area is reached where, until the Government 
enforced peace, skulls were collected and hung upon the dubu. 

Although this custom and the form of the house dubu 
serve to differentiate the folk of Kerfpunu, Hula^ and the 
Hood Peninsula villages from the Sinaugolo and kindred 
tribes, the general sociology of all these peoples is much alike ; 
their villages are divided into clans which are, or until very 
recently were, exogamous, and in each of these there is a 

Although the inhabitants of Alukune are fisherfolk, they obtain their canoes 
from Keapara, and for these they pay heavily. I was told it was half the catch, in 
other words, they traded on the half profits system. I believe a canoe debt is rarely 
cleared off. 

Canoe-making is the great industry of Keapara, and it is an unusual sight in 
New Guinea to see men constantly actively at work, and to hear the rhythmic 
chops of the stone adzes hollowing out one or two canoes at a time.' 'Studies in 
the Anthropogeography of British New Guinea,' Geographical Journal^ 1900, pp. 
286, 287. 

* The most important of the Aroma villages is Maopa ; Captain Barton has 
given me the following names of its clans which I understand are called kwalw. 
Balubalu, Kwalu Bobo, Levapuka, Anoma, Kwalu Ivua, Agevogo, Egala Ivua, 
Kwalu Ragideagi, Vanuaraka, Pana Vanuna, Gawa Kala, Egala Auna. The 
names of the dubu are Galoirupu, Mavalarupu, Wamalarupu, Pomugalurupu, 
Gailerupu. Some account of the Aroma houses and certain wooden objects 
which are exhibited on their roofs is given by Finsch in Ethnologische Erfahrungen 
und Belegstiicke aus dem Sudsee^ pp. 102 and 103. 

Plate IV 

House dubu at Kalo, Hood Peninsula 

Introduction 2 1 

hereditary headman or chief whose status depends primarily 
upon his hereditary ownership of the right front post of his 
clan's open or house dubu. Moreover, whichever form the dubu 
assumes, the decoration on its corner posts consists of the 
same type of design worked out in small four-sided pyramids. ^ 

Further, although the dubu of the Hood Peninsula should 
be, and generally are, house dubu^ the house may in individual 
instances decay, and its platform, which is nevertheless used 
ceremonially as the dubu, alone remain. This was the case 
at Babaka where more than one dubu was represented by 
a low platform. Pigs were hung from horizontal poles at the 
front of these open platforms and in June 1898 I witnessed 
the initiation ceremony of seven girls on one of these platforms, 
devoid of all carving, situated in the centre of Babaka village. 
This ceremony has been described independently by Dr A. 
C. Haddon^ and the late R. E. Guise", so that it is only 
necessary to state that the genitals of the recently tattooed, 
that is the nubile girls of the year were anointed with oil 
by an old woman, while they stood upon the dubu, after 
which the girls, still upon the dubu, ceremonially cut up a 
number of yams and pelted the crowd with areca nuts for 
which the onlookers scrambled. 

In the ceremony witnessed at Babaka, no pigs were hung 
upon the dubu, though one was laid upon the ground in front 
of it, but a photograph taken by Mr English of the same 
ceremony in Babaka village upon another occasion, shows 
at least nine pigs hanging to the dubu at the girl's feet. 
Skulls were formerly hung on certain of these detached 
platforms, one of which was often situated at the outskirts 
of the village, and it seems probable that of old there were 
certain erections in each of the Hood Peninsula villages upon 
which alone skulls might be hung. Mr English states that 
this was so at Babaka, while Chalmers says of a skull taken 
by Hula, a Kerepunu colony, that it was taken to Kerepunu 
to be hung there upon a ' dubu ' because there was no ' dubu ' 
at Hula upon which skulls might be hung. Further, speaking 
of Kerepunu, Chalmers says, ' ...the pigs appointed for this 
day's feast are ready to be carried into the sacred place, where 

they will be speared The sacred place is at the back of 

the village, and consists only of two platforms on a swamp, 

1 Head Hunters^ Black, White and Brown, London, 1901, p. 217 et seq. 

2 Journal of the Anthropological Institute^ Vol. xxvni. 1899 

22 Introduction 

with a long pole in front The pigs are carried, one after 

another, and placed in rows in front, just under the long pole 

on which bananas are hung ^' and mention is subse- 

quendy made of * the skulls hanging on a long pole in front 
of the platforms ^' 

Figure 2 is from a sketch by Captain Barton made in 
accordance with the account of some of the old men of Aroma, 
who approved this restoration of the front of their old sacred 
platform, before which a fire was kept burning. 

Besides being the centre of the great tabu festivals 
described in chapter xii, the open dubu of the Koita and 
allied tribes undoubtedly have a close association with the 
spirits of the dead and instances of this association are given 
in chapter 11. 

A similar association of spiritual agencies with the house 
dtcbu of the Hood Peninsula probably occurs, though 
evidence is lacking on this point. It is, however, clear that 
the association of the chief of each clan or wagiworo as it 
is called at Kalo, with the house dubu, is especially close, and it 
is also clear that the clan chiefs exercise certain magical, 
it might almost be said priestly, functions. Thus the owner 
of the front right post takes a special part in the magical 
ceremonial which precedes and follows a turtle hunt^ 

Very little is known concerning the population of the 
country between Aroma and Mullins Harbour in the neigh- 

1 Pioneering in New Guinea, London, 1887, p. 325. 

2 Ibid.^ p. 327. 

' Before going turtle fishing the men of each clan take their nets to the rupu of 
their clan where they leave them. The clan chief lives in the rupu, and it appears 
that the nets are usually brought to him early in the morning and left in one of the 
compartments of the rupu—noi upon its platform — till about 5 p.m. During a 
part of this time the chief is left alone with the nets which he 'medicines' wearing 
meanwhile his armshells and feathers, and bunches of certain herbs thrust between 
the armshells and his arm. In the evening, about 5 p.m., the nets are collected and 
piled in one large craft which is accompanied by a number of smaller canoes in 
which are the majority of the fishermen. After the drive — for the turtles are 
driven into the nets — each clan takes its nets and the turtle caught in them to the 
house of its clan chief where they are cut up and apportioned. The latter task 
falls to the clan chief who himself keeps the head which is cooked next day and 
placed on top of the nets, its flesh being eaten by all the clan except the chief. 
At the sharing out, the wife of the chief may receive a portion of the turtle which 
may be cooked and eaten in the chief's house, although he himself may not touch 
it. After the flesh of the head has been eaten the skull is painted red and kept in 
the rupu often being placed upon the fore end of the ridge pole, or on the end of 
one of the rafters of the building. This ceremony is gone through every time that 
turtle are caught with a net. After each hunt the nets must be left in the rupu 
for two or three days, after which their owners may remove them whenever the/j 
like. In this note rupu is used as a synonym for house dubu. 



bourhood of which the territory of the Massim begins, in fact, 
this is one of the least known portions of British New Guinea. 
I have however seen a number of natives said to come from 




the Keveri valley a few miles from the coast behind Cloudy 
Bay, and the difference between them and the Hood Peninsula 
group was striking. They were shorter, darker and all had 
frizzly hair, besides this they were more long-headed. The 

24 Introduction 

average height of eight men was 1*584 m. (62| in.) and their 
cephalic index ^Z (min. 71, max. ^'^. These natives were 
said to resemble the coast natives of Cloudy Bay and like 
them to be specially fierce and little amenable to Government 

A people who may be called the Mailu inhabit the country 
around Port Glasgow and Milport Harbour in Orangerie Bay. 
They are predominantly mesaticephalic with an average 
cranial index of 78*6 and a medium stature of i'6oo m. 
(about 63 in.). Their skin colour is generally a light 
cafd-ati-lait and their hair is sometimes curly rather than 
frizzly ; although these people speak a Papuan dialect, the 
eastern portion of Orangerie Bay is inhabited by tribes 
speaking a Melanesian dialect, doubtless the most western 
of the Massim dialects of the south coast. Very little is 
known of this part of New Guinea, the linguistic relations 
of the tribes are shown by Mr S. H. Ray on the map given 
after p. 288 of Vol. iii. of the Reports of the Cambridge 
Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, and Captain 
Barton informs me that on the physical side all the Orangerie 
Bay natives are Melanesian rather than Papuan. This coin- 
cides with the opinion that I had previously formed of four 
Bonabona men said to come from Orangerie Bay. These 
men resembled the Mailu in general appearance but were 
more brachycephalic (average 82, min. 79, max. 84). It does 
not however seem possible to assign their final place to the 
Melanesian speaking inhabitants of Orangerie Bay, until 
more is known concerning the physical anthropology of the 
inhabitants of the coast between Orangerie Bay and South 
Cape, though we may suspect their relationship is to the 
Massim rather than to the Western Papuo-Melanesians. 

I am indebted to the Rev. W. J. V. Saville for the 
following information concerning the social system of the 

* No doubt there is some connection, perhaps only indirect and by trade, 
between the natives of Cloudy Bay and the tribes to the north of the main range. 
Mr Ray tells me that he has noted some likeness in the vocabularies of Cloudy Bay 
and the Musa river. Again the ophicalcite adzes vi'hich are traded down the Musa 
and Wakioki rivers to the coast, and are made of stone found in the neighbourhood 
of the N.W. slopes of Mount Suckling are also found on the south coast at Cloudy 
Bay, replacing the blades made of stone quarried at Suloga on Murua which extend 
as far west as the Papuan Gulf. (P'or an account of the distribution of ophicalcite 
adze blades on the north coast, see Seligmann and Joyce * On Prehistoric Objects 
in British New Guinea' in Anthropological Essays presented to Edward Burnett 
Tylor, 1907.) 

Introduction 25 

Mailu. Mr Saville states that in each Mailu village there 
are a number of divisions called mauru which appear to 
correspond to the Motu and Koita iduhu. Each mauru 
possesses, or should possess, a house in which skulls were 
formerly kept and which women may not enter. These 
houses, although their posts are said to be uncarved, are 
bigger and better built than the ordinary family houses of 
the village and should, or might, stand in the middle of the 
village street. In each mauru there is a chief or headman 
(vere) who is stated to be more or less responsible for the 
upkeep of the clubhouse. This information shows that the 
social organization of the Mailu is that of the Western Papuo- 
Melanesians, but there is no doubt that the Mailu have also 
felt the influence of the Massim culture, for Captain Barton's 
very valuable series of photographs and drawings of the 
tattoo patterns used by the Mailu women show that these 
employ the very patterns used by the Massim of Rogeia, 
Teste Island and Tubetube\ 

Further, although as Mr Ray informs me, the Mailu 
language shows no trace of Melanesian grammar, there are 
Melanesian words in the Mailu vocabulary. 

Returning to Redscar Head and passing westwards along 
the coast we reach Yule Island, upon which is one of the 
principal settlements of the Roro, who also occupy the lowest 
reaches of the St Joseph river. The nearly related Roro- and 
Mekeo-speaking folk of the valley of the St Joseph river 
constitute the most western groups of the immigrant stock 
now under consideration, that is of the Western Papuo- 
Melanesians. These two peoples are so much alike socially 
and culturally that they must be considered together, although 
when any considerable number are examined physically it 
becomes evident that there are slight but constant differences. 
Thus the Mekeo, who inhabit the upper portion of the 
plain of the St Joseph river behind the coastal Roro- 
speaking zone, are somewhat shorter and distinctly more 
brachycephalic than the Roro. The latter extend westward 
towards Cape Possession, where their outlying villages, 

* The Mailu also make pots the use of which seems limited to the neighbourhood 
of their site of manufacture, perhaps because of their brittle character. I do not 
know whether these pots are made by the method of coiling used by the Massim 
or not, they are somewhat profusely ornamented and in general appearance more 
closely approach the pots of the Massim than those made by the Motu of the 
Central Division. 

26 Introduction 

Waima and KevorI\ speak a different dialect to the other 
Roro-speaking tribes. Further, the inhabitants of Waima 
(and probably also of Kevori), can be divided into two types, 
one showing affinity to the Elema group of the Papuan Gulf, 
the other resembling the more easterly Roro. Ignoring Waima 
and Kevori the average cephalic index of thirty Roro-speaking 
men is 79 and their average stature 1*617 "^- (about 63^ in.), 
while the average cephalic index of twenty-nine Mekeo men 
is Z-}^ with an average stature of i"585 m., i.e. about an inch 
less. The languages of Roro and Mekeo are Melanesian, 
but the language of Mekeo presents peculiarities in the 
phonetic system, such as the frequency of aspirates and 
gutturals which Mr Ray thinks may point to Papuan 

The Pokao who occupy a few square miles inland from 
the coast between Hall Sound and Cape Suckling and who 
have apparently been kept from the sea by the Roro-speaking 
tribes, are remarkable for the high percentage of individuals 
with curly, wavy or almost straight hair. Plate I shows a 
woman with a type of hair, by no means uncommon in this 
tribe, which at first sight might almost be called straight, 
though on more careful examination it is found to be wavy. 
In section such hair is almost circular, thus contrasting with 
the elliptical section of typical frizzly Papuasian hair. It is 
interesting to note that among this tribe wavy hair appears to 
some extent to be a secondary sexual characteristic, since it is 
far commoner in women than in men. Among the Pokao the 
brachycephalic element is reduced to a minimum, a low 
mesaticephalic condition tending to dolichocephaly prevailing^ 

^ Waima and Kevori clearly represent an area of contact metamorphosis due 
to Gulf influence. Not only do some of their inhabitants show this in their 
physique but there is no doubt that the long initiation ceremonies for boys (which 
are absent among the Roro) described in chapter /.xxi, have been borrowed from 
the Elema tribes of the Papuan Gulf. Further, much of the decorative art of 
Waima suggests Gulf influence, and it may be pointed out that the Gulf village 
of Jokea has an old traditional friendship with Inawi, an important village of 
Mekeo whose inhabitants they formally assisted against Rarai, another Mekeoi 
village. Although at the present day this friendship seems to have fallen into 
abeyance, its traces persist in the occasional decoration in Gulf style of certairf 
Mekeo clubhouses. 

^ Mr Ray has pointed out to me that Mekeo is the only Melanesian language 
on the mainland with an ng sound which is elsewhere represented by r. 

' Although the Pokao say that they originally came from inland and regard 
themselves as inland people who have migrated towards the coast, there can be no 
doubt that they represent a wave of immigrants who made their way inland, where 
they formed settlements, which they occupied long enough to allow them to 


Introduction ^7 

KapatsI called KabadI by the Motu is the name of a small 
district inland from Galley Reach, through which flows the 
Aroa river. Although its inhabitants speak a dialect nearly 
related to the Motu, not very much is known about them ; 
according to an account gathered at Mekeo there is a large 
Mekeo element in the Kabadi population'. 

So far we have dealt with a series of groups of Papuo- 
Melanesians inhabiting the coast, or the country immediately 
behind the coast, (in which case they have constant friendly 
intercourse with the coast natives), all of whom have certain 
characters in common, namely the more or less frequent 
occurrence of curly or wavy hair and a bronze coloured skin 
which in every tribe so far described presents individual 
variations running through the whole gamut of shades of 
caf^-ati-lait, from a lightish yellow with only a tinge of brown 
to a tolerably dark bronze colour. The lightest shades are 
everywhere uncommon, and in many localities appear to be 
limited to the female sex, in whom wavy as opposed to frizzly 
hair seems to be much commoner than among men, at least in 
its more characteristic forms. 

There are two important features which distinguish this 
group (apart from those already referred to as shared by 

forget their connection with the sea. Doubtless they intermarried largely with the 
aborigines of the country among whom they settled, but in spite of this, I am 
inclined to see in these comparatively light skinned and often wavy haired people, 
the least modified descendants of the original immigrant stock, which must be 
regarded as the ancestors of the present Papuo-Melanesians. Measurements were 
made of 25 adult natives of Oroi and Diumana villages of whom 15 were males. 
The average cephalic index of these men was 75 (min. 70, max. 81), their nasal 
index averaged 83 (min. 'j'})^ max. 93), and their facial index 84 (min. 79, max. 88). 
The average height of 12 of these men was 1*679 ^- about 66 inches. The cephalic 
index of 10 women was 73*5 (min. 70, max. 80). Their nasal index 79 (min. 64, 
max. 95), and their facial index 86 (min. 80, max. 95). The average height of nine 
of these women was 1*576 m. (about 62 in.). The skin colour is always some hue 
of cafd-au-lait, though in some girls it is so light that it might almost be described 
as brownish yellow. Some girls had eyes which were slightly oblique. 

It is obvious that people presenting these physical characters can not be other 
than immigrants in spite of their own belief that they are inland people who have 
been forced towards the coast. 

^ I am indebted to Dr Strong for the information that the Kabadi clubhouses 
in their general features resemble the Roro clubhouses. The three best known 
villages of Kabadi are Vanuapaka, Kopuana and Ukaukana. The names of the 
itsubu of these villages which Dr Strong gives as Ovia Kupunu, Koiitunu, Ivena, 
Idibana, Kopuana, Au Kupunu, Muri Kupunu, Poio Kupunu show that there is 
a strong Roro element in them, and this is borne out by the names of certain 
Kabadi clubhouses among which are Kaurama (Roro, Haurama), Gubara, Siau, 
Daiyo, Yarobe, Auwaipona, Doamopona. Probably the population of Kabadi 
springs from a number of different sources like that of Delena described in 
chapter xvii. 

28 Introduction 

all Western Papuo-Melanesians). These are (i) the greater 
importance attached to the right than to the left side in 
matters of ceremony, and (2) the predominance of so called 
geometrical designs in the decorative art of all these tribes. 
With regard to the predominance of the ' right ' side, the 
clan chiefs of these, tribes are responsible for the upkeep of 
the right front corner post of the dubu (Motu, Koita, 
Sinaugolo, etc.) or clubhouse (Pokao, Hood Peninsula tribes, 
etc.) and the hereditary owner of the post Is necessarily the 
hereditary clan chief Among the Roro the regular title 
for the clan chief is ovia itsipana, ' chief of the right,' while 
his assistant is ovia awarina, ' chief of the left.' 

The clans of a number of the tribes of the Central District 
(Motu, Koita, Sinaugolo, etc.) are also divided into right and 
left halves ; this feature was formerly well marked among the 
Sinaugolo within each of whose clans {dogord) there are 
usually two kavi. Each kavi (explained by Mr A. C. English 
as meaning side) possesses two of the big corner posts and 
the big carved horizontal on one side of the dubu. Although 
the rule is disregarded at the present day yet it is said 
that the kavi should strictly speaking occupy opposite sides 
of the village street, and that the terms ribana and kaurina, 
i.e. right and left, should be applied to the two kavi and used 
in speaking of them. If one kavi ^^x^ much weakened the 
stronger kavi would assist it in hunting, fishing and building'. 

This condition of chieftainship associated with the right 
and left sides of the dubu or clubhouse is not found in Mekeo, 
as far as I know, but this may probably be accounted for by 
the specialization that has taken place in the functions of 
different classes of chiefs in thai district. 

Such essential unity does not exist, or if it does, cannot at 
present be detected among the groups of natives who form 
the next series to be discussed. Broadly speaking these 
may be summarised as the hill and mountain men who 
occupy the hinterland of that part of the coast which is not 
mhabited by Papuan tribes. The majority— perhaps all— 

' It must not be concluded that this division into sides is essentially a 
Mcianesian feature, Captain Barton having discovered its existence among the 
tlcma tribes fPapuans; of the Papuan Gulf. The clan man-houses {^eravo) are 
ajviacd into right and left halves called maitoavi ?.x^^ jnaiava respectively. Men 
Sleep and eat on their own sides of the building and although members of * right' 
^??K . '^'^'•'es may intermarry, each clan is otherwise exogamous. The chief 
of the ♦ left ' '* ^'P^^'^^y the chief of the eravo and takes precedence of the chief 



of these tribes speak Papuan languages, but as far as I know 
none of them have the stature or bulky physique that charac- 
terizes the Papuan tribes of the Mamba River and the Elema 
stock of the Papuan GulP. Further, although individuals 
with curly hair occur in some of these tribes, their number 
is small. The whole of this area is very little known, never- 
theless, I believe we are in a position to define certain groups. 

Koiari is the term applied by the Motu and their neighbours 
on the coast to the tribes inhabiting their hinterland, i.e. the 
foothills and the lateral spurs of the main range. I should 
provisionally regard the following tribes as belonging to the 
Koiari group, Gasiri, Sogeri, Uberi, Ebe, Agi, and Meroka. 
The villages of all these people consist of small groups of 
houses less well built than those of the coast peoples and 
usually containing one or two tree houses which act as citadels 
and refuges in time of need. Provisionally the Meroka may 
be considered the most easterly tribe of the Koiari group, 
while to the west the Vanapa river may be regarded as their 
boundary. Measurements taken on the living (10) show that 
the Koiari are mesaticephals with an average stature of 
1*582 m. (rather under 63 in.)^ 

The older men of the Koiari tribes wear long beards, and 
I have several times noticed a reddish or gingery tinge in the 
hair of the face of members of this group. 

Men of much the same build and height as the Koiari are 
met with in the higher mountains behind the Koiari zone. 
Captain Barton states that these tribes speak a dialect akin 
to Koiari but that they are distinguished in their native 
mountains by the sporran-like garment worn by the men. 
Four of these mountaineers, measured by Dr H addon, had 
an average cephalic index of 81 (min. y^y max. 2>2,)j and an 

^ To these may be added the coastal tribes of parts of German New Guinea, 
e.g. Huon Gulf and the Tugeri (Kaiakaia) of Netherlands New Guinea. 

2 There is however a curious discrepancy between the index calculated 
from measurements taken on the living and from skulls. Whereas the former 
(10) average 78 and show a min. of 72> ^^^ ^ ^^^- ^3> ^^^ average cranial index of 
seven Koiari skulls collected in the neighbourhood of Port Moresby is 70 with 
a min. of 67 and a max. of 73. The crania in question include three skulls collected 
on the road to Wariratta, and the explanation of the discrepancy is probably to be 
found in the fact that most, if not all, these skulls have been collected within 
twenty miles of Port Moresby, while some of the living subjects measured certainly 
came from further inland, whence no skulls have been collected, with the exception 
of a single skull having a cranial index of 77 collected by Captain Barton from 
the neighbourhood of Mount Victoria and which 1 think may be attached pro- 
visionally to this group. 


o Introduction 

average stature of 1-613 ^- (^si ins.). The men of some of 
these sporran-wearing tribes living in the neighbourhood of 
the 'Gap' at a height of over 5000 feet are described by 
Captain Barton as rather Hght-skinned men of excellent 
physique and pleasant, unconstrained manners. Their appear- 
ance conclusively shows that in spite of speaking a Papuan 
language they possess more Melanesian than Papuan blood. 

Garia is the name of the best known of a number of tribes 
living to the west of the Koiari and speaking dialects of a 
Papuan language which differ from the various Koiari 
tongues', and the name Garia may be usefully applied to the 
group of which this tribe is a representative. 

The Garia dialects — for I am told that there are at least 
two forms of a stock language spoken by different sections of 
the Garia — are spoken over a considerable area to the west 
of the Kemp Welch river, which constitutes their eastern 
boundary. The Governor Loch range may be regarded 
as the head quarters of the tribes speaking these dialects, 
whence they have spread in a westerly direction towards the 
coast, the most westerly tribe, the Manukoro, being in contact 
with the coastal peoples behind |^aile. Twenty men of the 
eastern branch of the Garia inhabiting the western bank of 
the Kemp Welch gave an average cephalic index of 77 (min. 
72, max. 86) and were predominantly mesaticephalic. The 
average stature of these men is i "603 m. and their general 
appearance suggests that the Papuan element is decidedly 
subordinate. In many cultural matters they resemble their 
neighbours the Sinaugolo who speak a Melanesian dialect. 

Of individuals speaking the western Garia dialect, which 
may be called Manukoro, as it is spoken by that tribe, I 
have seen and measured only five men belonging to the 
Lakumi tribe inhabiting the upper reaches of the Hunter and 
Musgrove rivers. As far as this limited number goes, they 
seem to be rather taller and more dolichocephalic than the 
eastern Garia and one of them had curly hair which was 
almost wavy. Behind the Garia, and rather to the east of 
them in the mountains between Mount Potter and Mount 
Obree, are found a tribe speaking a language which Mr A. C. 
English calls Barai and which he appears to consider a 

' It seems likely that language will long remain an important factor in the 
differentiating and grouping of the comparatively little known tribes of the main 
range and its foothills. 

Introduction 31 

dialect of Garia. Six men from the village of Seramine were 
mesaticephalic, with an average index of 77 and a stature of 
1*578 m. {62 in.). 

With the exception of Mekeo, the Roro-speaking tribes, 
the Pokao and the Kabadi, all in the west, the tribes of the 
Hood Peninsula and the coastal tribes east of this promontory, 
all the western Papuo-Melanesian tribes that have been 
mentioned (extending from Hall Sound to some distance east 
of the Kemp Welch river) are characterized by the use of the 
open dubtc. 

The mountains inland of Mekeo, Nara and Kabadi are 
inhabited by a number of tribes of whom our knowledge is 
extremely limited. Some of these tribes speak Papuan 
languages, others Melanesian, but the slightest acquaintance 
with these people shows that language is not here a criterion 
of race, for broadly speaking the members of all these tribes 
are alike in general appearance, being short, dark, and frizzly- 
haired. It is probable that there is also a substantial agree- 
ment in the customs of all these people, for their women all 
wear a narrow perineal band instead of the petticoat of their 
eastern neighbours the Koiari, and they all inhabit small 
settlements of an impermanent character perched on the 
summit of razor-backed ridges. These collections of houses 
which are generally stockaded appear to be known by the 
names of the crests on which they are built. As the tribal 
names of these people are doubtful or scarcely known, we may 
speak of these mountaineers as forming the Kovio group, Kovio 
being the name for Mount Yule around which these tribes 
are distributed, and I may hazard the opinion that the further 
differentiation of the components of the Kovio group will 
depend largely upon linguistics. Some of the communities of 
this group inhabiting the head waters of the St Joseph and its 
tributaries build suspension bridges across these torrents. 

The Rev. Father Egidi has recently published an account 
of the sociology of the best known of the Kovio peoples 
whom he calls the Kuni ; they inhabit the mountains im- 
mediately behind Mekeo and Pokao and speak a Melanesian 
language^ Their social organization, though simpler than 

^ Casa e Villaggio, Sottotribu e Tribu dei Kuni, A^ithropos, Vol. iv. 1909. 

'The Kuni language is spoken further inland than any other Melanesian 
language with which we are acquainted, and it is remarkable for the paucity of 
its numerals. It extends over a considerable area including the small districts 
of Rapeka, Idoido, Keakamana, Devadeva, and is also spoken for some distance 

32 Introduction 

that of Mekeo, shows a remarkable resemblance to it and 
indicates, that part at least of the Mekeo social system is 
derived from the mountains. Concerning the sociology of the 
Papuan speaking members of the Kovio group nothing is 
known except that some, whom Captain Barton calls the 
Kamaweka, are cannibals and dispose of their dead by ex- 
posing their bodies on rough platforms in the jungle\ 

Mr C. A. W. Monckton's explorations of Mount Albert 
Edward and the head of the Chirima in 1906 have shown that 
people belonging to the Kovio group extend into the heart 

up the Dilafa valley. Possibly there are dialectic variations but little is known 
concerning this ; the Rapeka people certainly use some Mekeo numerals.' For 
this information I am indebted to Dr Strong. With regard to Rapeka this people has 
undoubtedly come into close contact with Mekeo and as is stated in chapter XXVI 
has contributed towards the peopling of the Mekeo plain. Another Melanesian 
language is spoken at Doura a small village at the head of Galley Reach. The 
Doura told Dr Strong that they formerly lived in the Pokao district but that they 
were driven thence by the Nara. On their dispersal a part of those who did not 
settle at Doura fled to the Kabadi village of Matapaile while the remainder 
travelled westwards to the Papuan Gulf where they settled on the Cupola, a rocky 
promontory immediately to the south-east of the Kerema. At the present time 
there are two settlements of people whom the Elema tribes regard as strangers on 
the Cupola, and another small one at its foot near the Elema village which is 
known to the .Motu as Silo. But the evidence that the 'strangers' have come from 
Doura is far from convincing, for language is the only test at present available, 
and its evidence does not support this hypothesis. Dr Strong has collected a 
vocabulary of the Tate language which is spoken on the Cupola. This has been 
examined by Mr Ray who considers that the Tate language is Papuan but quite 
distinct from the Elema, Namau and Bamu groups of Papuan dialects and also 
from the Papuan languages of German New Guinea. Further, although in the 
Tate language there are some words 'similar to Roro, Mekeo, Pokau and Kabadi, 
these apparently Melanesian words are all (except five) words which in the four 
languages mentioned are unlike Melanesian.' 

* Seligmann and Strong, 'Anthropological Investigations in British New 
Guinea,' Geographical Journal^ 1906, pp. 234, 237. 

Anriong the Papuan languages of the Kovio group Fuyuge is spoken along the 
meridian of 146 degrees 50 min. for a distance of at least some 40 miles, from the 
parallel of 8 deg. 30 min. S. lat. On the west it is bounded by the Kuni and on 
the south by Kabadi (Melanesian) ; its eastern extension is unknown though 
it certainly comes into contact with dialects of the Koiari group of languages. 
A different language, Afoa, is spoken in the villages on Mount Pitsoko and the 
northern slopes of Mount Davidson (Boboleva) and yet another in the neighbour- 
hood of Mount Yule. The Afoa villages lie to the north of the Fuyuge-speaking 
communities, stretching westwards for an unknown distance behind Mount 
Davidson. These people have a heavy throwing spear and a narrow shield some 
six feet long, made from the section of a tree trunk. They also have a short bow, 
about three feet long. Although their villages are defended by palisades and 
pitfalls they build tree houses. They have large gardens of sweet potatoes occupy- 
ing the fairly open country which in these hills is found at a height of from four to 
six thousand feet. For this information I am indebted to Dr Strong who 
writes: 'The vocabulary of the language spoken near Mount Yule bears no 
resemblance to any other with which I am acquainted. It is peculiar in that 
words often end in a consonant preceded by a short vowel. There is also an 
unusual consonant in the language which seems to vary between a "ch" and 
a "tch" sound.' 

Plate V 

Agaiambo man and Goodenough Islander 



of the main range and the large number of the drawings with 
which Mr Monckton's report is illustrated render this of great 
interest^ Among them are undescribed forms of wooden 
racks for drying tobacco, and wooden clubs identical with 
specimens in the British Museum collected by Dr Strong 
from the neighbourhood of Mount Yule ; the adze figured is 
of the form used in Roro and Mekeo (where it is sometimes 
called kovio because it comes by trade from the neighbour- 
hood of Mount Yule) and the mountainous hinterland of these 
districts, while the three stone tapa-beaters figured, suggest 
that this neighbourhood may be the site of manufacture of 
these implements, single examples of which have been 
collected in so many parts of British New Guinea^ 

The ethnic position of a number of tribes situated north 
of the main range between the Musa river and its tributaries 
and the head waters of the Kumusi is uncertain. Mr Monckton 
has told me of small moderately light coloured hill-men who 
until recently raided the Collingwood Bay villages, and inland 
from Ketakerua Bay there is a vast morass in which dwell the 
Agaiambo. The discovery of this tribe gave rise to the 
accounts of 'web-footed ' Papuans which were widely circulated 
a few years ago. Plate V is a reproduction of a photograph 
taken by Captain Barton of an Agaiambo man and a typical 
Massim from Goodenough Island. The short stature and the 
physiognomy of the Agaiambo both indicate that he is not a 
typical Papuan, and probably the Agaiambo are to be re- 
garded as possessing both Papuan and Melanesian blood so that 
provisionally they may be classed with the Papuo-Melanesians. 
Their houses are built on platforms in the swamps and it 
seems that a great part of their time is passed in their canoes, 
which Captain Barton suggests may account for their some- 
what weak lower limbs. 

In the preceding pages I have referred to the smaller groups 
of the two great stocks into which the Papuo-Melanesians are 

1 British New Guinea^ Ann. Rep. 1905-6, pp. 85-93. 

2 I am indebted to an unpublished note by the Rev. P. J. Money for the following 
details of the natives of the Kambisa villages upon a south-east spur of Mount 
Albert Edward at the head of the Chirima valley at a height of about 6000 ft. : 
' Short in stature and sturdily built.. ..Their skin is of a copper colour.. ..Their faces 
are smaller, flatter and rounder than those of the majority of the coastal tribes 
[i.e. of the north coast]. Their noses are flat and broad, and their eyes dark and 
widely set. Their hair is frizzly and long and is dressed in different ways.' Both 
sexes wear a perineal bandage. They do not bury their dead but place them on 
elevated platforms. 

S. N. G. 3 

34 Introduction 

divided, and wherever I have been able to do so I have indicated 
the distinguishing characteristics of each tribe or group. 
Logically I should next discuss the crafts and then the arts of 
each group, but as stated in the preface, it is not my intention 
to dothis, though I consider it necessary to attempt to indicate 
the factors which I believe have contributed to the formation 
of the characteristic decorative art of the Papuo-Melanesians, 
which entitles them to a high rank among the artistic peoples 
of the Pacific. 

In his important work The Decorative Art of British 
A'ew Guinea. Dr H addon has given many reproductions of 
objects which show the majority of the designs commonly 
employed by the Melanesians of New Guinea to decorate 
their implements and utensils. The plates in this volume 
give an excellent idea of the large number of objects which 
are habitually decorated, and the accompanying letterpress 
supplies an adequate explanation of the meaning and origin 
of the majority of the designs^ 

The Papuo-Melanesians feel no imperious necessity to 
attach a meaning to any of the forms they carve on wood or 
the patterns they tattoo on their bodies, the verses of their 
songs or the figures of their dances. If the reason for a 
particular carving, tattoo pattern or dance figure be asked, 
the answer ' our fathers did so before us ' is usually given as 
a sufficient and final explanation, and I have never received 
an answer implying that a carving or dance figure reproduced 
or commemorated the doings of ancestors, though certain 
lakatoi songs make mention of Edai Siabo who taught the 
Motu to sail westward to the Papuan Gulf for sago". 

■* Considering that the author worked from museum material this volume shows 
great skill and extraordinary intuition. Indeed the only alteration of note which 
my experience leads me to regard as necessary, is the recognition of the fact 
that among the Massim no preponderant importance is attached to the frigate 
bird at the present day, and that many of the designs which Dr Haddon derives 
from the frigate bird, represent other birds which may be the totems of the people 
for whom they were carved, though more often their intent is merely decorative. 
At the time that Decorative Art was written it was impossible to give details 
concerning the decoration of the dubii of the Central District and the houses and 
built-up canoes of the Massim. The illustrations given in the present volume will 
enable the essentials of their decoration to be appreciated. 

* These songs are archaic and only partly understood and the memory of Edai, 
who has become a mythological figure, is only kept alive in the legend given 
by Captain Harton in chapter viii dealing with the hiri. Another example of 
the absence of any attempt to keep in touch with the past is furnished by the 
Sinaugolo who, although they invoke their ancestors before hunting, only call 
upon the recent dead. 



As the greater part of the art of British New Guinea is 
assuredly not commemorative, it becomes necessary to consider 
how far Papuasian art is 'autotelic,' existing only for the 
purpose of embellishment and lacking any non-aesthetic signi- 
ficance. In studying this question the great difficulty is to 
make certain that an apparently aesthetic carving or action 
has no other significance than that of pure aesthetics. No 
object could appear more obviously aesthetic than the beauti- 
fully carved objects called munkuris which are fixed to the 
waga of the northern Massim, yet, as I have shown elsewhere, 
the natives of the Louisiades believe these munkuris to be 
essential to the safe navigation of the big canoes upon which 
they are exhibited \ 

The magical nature of these objects is not recognized by 
the people of Tubetube who import their waga from Murua, 
and Tokunu where the munkuris are made and where the 
end pieces of the canoes are carved with designs which are 
conventional representations of birds, fish and snakes, the 
totem animals of this part of New Guinea. Yet in spite of 
the Tubetube people having the same totemic system as that 
which has determined the ornamentation of these canoes, they 
are not only ignorant of the meaning attributed to these 
carvings by their makers, but they scarcely attempt to read 
any meaning into them^ 

No better example of the acceptance of a work of beauty 
as such, and the purposeful ignoring of any non-aesthetic 
value, could be adduced, and facts such as this certainly tend 
to support the belief that the Papuasian delight in art is 
largely autotelic. This idea is further strengthened when it 
is noted how many objects are covered with carving, with 
scratched or incised lines, or have patterns burnt on them, the 
great majority of which must, on the evidence of careful and 
repeated inquiry, be declared to be devoid of all magic or 
other non-aesthetic purpose. Thus, although the Tubetube 
folk are poor executants, they have a hereditary wood carver, 

^ Man^ 1909, 16. 

^ Several Tubetube men were questioned concerning the meaning of the 
carvings on a number of canoes that were hauled up on the sand, and though they 
recognized that the extremely obvious bird's heads did represent birds, they could 
not suggest what birds they were except in one instance, when one man pointed 
out that a bird with a particularly long neck might represent boi, the reef heron. 
Unfortunately at the time of my visit to Tubetube, I did not myself know the 
significance of these carvings and so my questions were necessarily couched in the 
most general terms. 


36 Introduction 

they ornament many of their utensils in every-day use, and 
they appear to fully appreciate the designs carved not only on 
their big imported canoes, but also on smaller articles such as 
drums and spatulae. The same aesthetic appreciation is found 
in the Central Division where some tribes have copied decora- 
tions although avowedly ignorant of the significance of the de- 
signs they have borrowed, merely imitating objects that gave 
them pleasure because they were judged to be beautiful. The 
most obvious examples of such borrowings occur in the province 
of decorative art, but in chapter xiii an example is given of a 
community acquiring by purchase the right to perform a 
dance, which there is every reason to believe appealed only 
to the aesthetic sense of both the buyers and its original 
proprietors. It is certain that in a community so intensely 
democratic as the Koita village who bought this dance, the 
large sum paid would never have been collected unless the 
whole of the community had approved of the purchase. 

Throughout Melanesian New Guinea the artistic tendency 
attains its highest expression in wood carving and in each 
community there is at least one expert in this art. These 
experts are hereditary craftsmen, having been taught their 
trade by their fathers or maternal uncles, and in turn take as 
pupils their own or their sisters sons. They are shown 
special consideration, and are fed by the men by whom they 
are employed, and there is no doubt that their work is appre- 
ciated by their fellows, many of whom also carve, though 
their work is generally inferior to that of the experts. Apart 
from their appreciation of decoration the Papuo-Melanesians 
undoubtedly delight in the effort involved in its production 
and a man with nothing particular to do will take up some 
half-made or partially ornamented utensil and work leisurely 
at it in a way that certainly betokens pleasured 

The nature of the pleasure produced by effort of this kind 
seems to be a heightened appreciation of self, brought about 
as the result of skilled co-ordinate movements, or other 

' A man may cut a series of notches in a suitable piece of wood with an adze, 
lakin;,' great care while doing this, although the wood when finished may be fit for 
nothing and may be thrown away immediately. I have no doubt that such 
activity, requiring little mental application but a delicate exercise of the muscular 
sense, is really greatly enjoyed, and I have seen an old man positively beam with 
interest and pleasure as he notched out the pyramidal elevations on a dubu post. 
In this instance the work done was ultimately utilitarian, but the effort put forth 
differed in no way from that exerted in the other instance referred to. 



actions which allow a man to feel that he is impressing him- 
self strongly on his environment. This point of view can 
perhaps be best made clear by considering the dances of the 
Motu and Koita tribes who live in the neighbourhood of Port 
Moresby. The routine preparation for dancing by natives 
of the tribes mentioned is to paint the face and to place 
feather ornaments in the hair. Nobody who watches the 
unassuming walk of a young buck going to the house of 
some friendly relative in which he assumes his paint and 
feathers, and compares this with the grandiose air with which 
he struts down the village street to join the dance will doubt 
that the process of decoration had added immensely to his 
self-consciousness. When feathers are scarce a few spots of 
paint may suffice to produce the same effect, and I have 
known a native apply a few dots of paint to the salient 
points of his face (nose, chin, and cheek-bones) when going 
ashore with his white master to visit a strange village, 
avowedly with the intention of drawing attention to himself 
and impressing the strangers he was visiting. 

The story of the origin of the tahaka figure of the Koita 
dance maginogo (given in chapter xiii) appears to be another 
instance of this feeling, and shows how vague moods of 
wonder and perhaps uneasiness or perplexity may be trans- 
lated into artistic production, which in its turn leads to an 
enhanced importance of the individual. 

To determine whether the portrayal of natural objects or 
the production of pleasing forms was the original intention of 
the artist it is necessary to examine a series of the products 
of each ethnic group, for Dr Haddon has shown that the art 
of each ethnic group is characterized by a special style. In 
spite of the amount of conventionalization that has taken 
place but little experience is needed to make it clear that 
the Massim art was naturalistic in origin. The matter is far 
less certain among the Motu and the related tribes of the 
Central Division, who have the Massim as their eastern 
neighbours and Elema (Papuan) tribes of the Papuan Gulf 
on the west. These two peoples possess the two richest and 
most distinctive styles of decorative art in British New 
Guinea; yet, ignoring the slight amount of contact-meta- 
morphosis which occurs on their borders, the Motu and 
cognate tribes, though good craftsmen, are the poorest artists 
in the Possession. An exception must however be made in 

38 Introduction 

the case of the tattoo marks of these people, which, though 
highly conventionalized, are certainly more complex, and to 
European eyes more beautiful than the tattooing of the 
Massim. It has already been stated that the decorative art 
of the Motu and kindred tribes is 'geometrical,' and the 
angular character of the figures is especially obvious in their 
tattooing which is always done by women. Nevertheless 
there is good evidence that certain geometrical designs 
originated as naturalistic representations, and I am inclined to 
believe that the whole of the art of the Motu and the cognate 
tribes of the Central Division has been developed from a 
naturalistic beginning\ 

Although art, and especially decorative art, plays a much 
larger part in the life of the majority of Papuo-Melanesians 
than it does among ourselves, certain motifs are unaccountably 
absent. In the first place the sexual element is scarcely to 
be found, not only is there an absence of pornographic 
detail in art, but even the female genitalia themselves are 
seldom represented. This reticence is the more surprising 
since Papuasians betray no such reserve in their speech, while 
the utmost freedom in sexual affairs is allowed to the un- 
married. Again, landscape is never represented and plants 
only rarely, in spite of the fact that among the Massim many 
clans have totem plants as well as totem animals. 

Another form of self-expression which cannot be ignored 
is the extreme boastfulness of the immigrant Melanesians. 
This tendency leads almost everyone to brag of his own 
doings and those of his clan and village. The inter-clan 
feasts of the Western Papuo-Melanesians afford ample occasion 
for this form of self-glorification when every individual will 
boast of the amount of food supplied by himself or his clan. 
On such occasions there is no tendency towards exaggeration 
for it would be useless, every man having taken good stock of 
the quantity of food provided by his fellows. When talking 
to strangers, however, the Melanesian puts little check on his 
imagination. The hekarai ceremony described in chapter xii 
is the result of a deliberate boast. If a man renders any service 

* Captain Barton discovered that certain typical geometrical designs of the 
Roro and kindred tribes have a naturalistic origin, and with his assistance I have 
been able to verify the hypothesis I tentatively advanced in 1899 {Reports, Brit. 
Ass. 1899) that the geometrical carving on the posts of the dubu of the Central 
District IS derived from the scales of the crocodile. 

Introdtiction 39 

to a white stranger he will mention it repeatedly and with 
emphasis and pride, though often without any thought of 
deriving immediate advantage therefrom. If he does any- 
thing for a fellow Papuasian he will talk of it to the white 
man as soon as he becomes fairly intimate with him and the 
frequent repetition of facts which enhance the self-esteem of 
the individual, such as the amount paid for a wife or a canoe, 
or the amount and nature of food given at a feast is a universal 







The villages of the Koita, called Koitapu by the Motu, 
lie scattered along the coastal region of the Central Division, 
for a distance of some forty miles, extending from Pari, which 
is about seven miles south-east of Port Moresby, to Manu- 
manu at the mouth of Galley Reach in Redscar Bay. The 
Koita territory, however, is larger than this village area would 
seem to indicate. Beginning at Taurama in the east, it 
extends to the borders of Nara, west of Cape Suckling. 
Throughout this area the Koita are divided into a number of 
sections, some of which bear the names of the villages which 
their members inhabit. The following list gives the names of 
the sections and the villages belonging to each running from 
east to west : 

Section. Village. 

Gorobe inhabiting 



















Buegarara, I boko, Bogemunime 






Dobi, Eholasi 






PapaS Konekaru 






Kido, Roauna. 

The folk of Namura, an extinct section of the Koita, were 
exterminated shortly before the annexation of the country, by 
the repeated attacks of the eastern sections, sometimes by the 
whole seven acting together, but more often by a combination 
of from two to four sections. The Namura village stood 
between Boera and Lealea in the bush, a short distance from 
the coast. 

1 Also called Veadi. 


The Koita 

The followine table shows the sections which were more 
or less constantly and reciprocally hostile, a cross, where 
horizontal and vertical lines meet, indicates that the sections 
referred to would be often at enmity. It is obvious that a 
line joining the island Lolorua to Pyramid Hill divides the 
Koita settlements into eastern and western moieties, which 
correspond geographically as closely as possible with the 
distribution of the sections at enmity. Although nothing was 
said by my informants to show that they recognized such a 
dual grouping, the enmity between eastern and western 
sections was so constant, that I have found it convenient to 
regard the Koita as consisting of eastern and western moieties, 
the former including Gorobe, Badili, Yarogaha, Yawai, Hohodai, 
Guriu and Baruni, the latter Huhunamo, Roko, Idu, Gevana, 
Arauwa and Rokurokuna, together with the now extinct 
Namura. With the exception of Baruni, the sections of the 
eastern moiety were said to come from one or other of two 
parent stocks originating at Idu and Koma. My informants 
were all Hohodai, Yarogaha or Gorobe men, and were 
ignorant of the history of Baruni, but they thought this 
section had come from the west ; and it also appeared to me 
that Baruni did not stand in the same close relationship to 
the other sections of the eastern group as the latter did to 
each other. Of the origin of the western group of sections, 
my eastern informants were frankly ignorant. 



Yarogaha ... 


Hohodai ... 










































Geographical and Social Relations 43 

It follows that the information here given about the Koita 
as a whole, represents the views of men of the eastern moiety 
of the tribe, and although most beliefs and customs are 
probably common to the two groups, my information applies 
specifically only to the eastern moiety. 

I could hear of no legend relating to the origin of the 
whole Koita tribe, but Chalmers gives the following story told 
him by the Motu : ' One night, sitting with a number of old 
men, they told me that, with the Koiari and Koitapu tribe, 
they came from two ancestors named Kirimaikulu and Kiri- 
maikape, who came from the earth with one female dog which 
they took unto themselves. A son was born, then a daughter, 
and again a son, followed by a daughter. The first two grew 
up and married, and their children numbered fourteen. Two 
went back inland, and became the progenitors of the Koiari 
tribe ; two went in from the coast by the banks of the Laroge, 
and from them descended the Koitapu tribe; the others all 
went to Elema where they were increased\' 

With regard to Idu and Koma, which legend gives as the 
birthplaces of the eastern Koita, it was from Koma that the 
ancestors of Gorobe and Yarogaha sections came. Here, on 
the northern bank of the Laloki river, stood a huge erimo 
tree, within which lived the ancestors of both divisions. When 
they emerged from the tree, they crossed the Laloki, and 
built a village on Nebira (Saddleback Hill), and called it also 
Koma. Subsequently, Gorobe migrated to Pari, while Yaro- 
gaha, after successively building and deserting two villages on 
the hills behind Hohodai, moved to their present village site. 
Badili, Hohodai and Yawai sections, all originally came from 
the hill Idu, to which the shades of their dead still return. 
No definite information was obtained concerning the wan- 
derings of Badili and Yawai sections, but after leaving Idu, 
the Hohodai section is reputed to have built a village at 
Borimana. This was in turn deserted and this section is 
said to have built two villages on or near Ela beach, and 
one upon a small island called Motu Motu, off the beach. At 
Naurihara, one of the beach villages. Ova Abau, the father 
of Taubada, the present chief of Hohodai, was born. Subse- 
quently the villages were shifted to a neighbouring hill called 
Tauerina, and thence to Koko on the beach at its foot. This 

1 ' On the Manners and Customs of the Tribes of New Guinea,' Proceedings 
of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow, Vol. XVIII. 1886, p. 57. 


The Koita 

was considered an unsuitable site, and, accordingly, under the 
leadership of Ova Abau, the people migrated to Nara, where 
they lived inland, at a place called Sobu Kau'. Here sickness 
carried off many children, and caused the group to remove to 
Obo, on the Nara beach; there they signalled a number of 
lakatoi returning from the Papuan Gulf, and were taken on 
these vessels to Poreporena, and built houses at Hohodai. 
Gardens were made, a dubu built, and a tabu feast held by 
Dubara iduhu, but nevertheless, after about a couple of years, 
the section returned to Koke, where they remained some 
years, and held two tabu feasts. An epidemic, however, 
broke out, and they once more returned to Hohodai, to build 
the present settlement. 

The size of the Koita village naturally varies somewhat 
according to the number and strength of their component 
clans. Hohodai and Guriu, the two Koita settlements of the 
Port Moresby village system, which may perhaps be looked 
upon as average villages, contain 20 houses with 129 inhabi- 
tants and 22 houses with 93 inhabitants respectively. The 
Koita houses of the Hanuabada village system stand upon 
piles, themselves about four feet longer than those (six to 
eight feet in height) supporting the verandah which each 
house has or should have. The verandah, which is shaded 
by an overhanging extension of the front thatch, is reached, 
in front by a ladder, and the house door by another shorter 
ladder from the back of the verandah. With the exception of 
the ladder leading to the house door, these features are well 
illustrated in the drawing (Plate IX)/of his house, made by 
Ahuia. Tree houses, used as refuges and fortresses during 
raids, formerly existed in the inland villages, but at the 
present time only one remains. 

Many of the Koita villages are built in direct continuity 
with Motu settlements. The village sites of the two tribes 
may, however, be distinct, but close together, as in the case of 
KilajFCila, which stands on the ridge of a hill immediately 
behind the Motu settlement Vabukori. Intermarriage has 

* Although this is the only mention of Nara as associated with the Koita 
in recent times, there are a number of facts which suggest that this association is of 
very old standing. There is a Koita tradition to the effect that the whole of the 
Nara district once belonged to the Koita, and in support of this there is a perfectly 
definite record that Nagu Kawea, the great-great grandfather of Ova Abau, and the 
founder of the chieftainship in the Dubara section of Hohodai, lived on Vauria, a 
hill in the Nara district. 

Geographical and Social Relations 45 

always taken place so freely, that it seems doubtful whether 
there could be found in the eastern moiety any considerable 
number of people of Koita blood who have remained pure 
for three generations. With this miscegenation there has 
come about a considerable borrowing of Motu activities. 
Practically all Koita speak Motu, and although pot-making is 
essentially a Motu craft, many Koita women make excellent 
pots. Their male relatives take part freely in the hiri (the 
Motu trading voyages to the Gulf), and may even captain the 
composite craft {lakatoi) in which these voyages are made. 
But in spite of this few Koita take part in turtle and dugong 
fishing ; and even in the immediate vicinity of Port Moresby, 
where perhaps fusion has been most complete, no Koita 
possesses the strong large meshed net with which these ani- 
mals are caught. 

In inland villages inhabited by Koita only, the houses are 
arranged in two parallel rows, one on each side of a central 
open space across which they face each other. But where the 
Koita and Motu have settled together in coastal villages the 
houses of the Koita like those of the Motu are usually built in 
compact masses near or below high water mark. In both 
cases the houses of each clan are usually built close together. 

The Port Moresby villages, commonly considered a single 
village and incorrectly called Hanuabada, constitute the 
largest village-system in the Koita- Motu territory. It consists 
of four villages, the correct name for which, when spoken of as 
a single village, is not Hanuabada, but Poreporena. Hanua- 
bada, the name by which it is generally known, being really 
the name of one of its four component villages, as well as that 
of one of the two subdivisions into which its four villages are 
divided. Proceeding from east to west the villages of Pore- 
porena are Hohodai (K.) and Hanuabada (M.) (which together 
constitute the subdivision Hanuabada) and Tanobada (M.) 
and Guriu (K.) together constituting Tanobada. 

This is shown in the following scheme : 

Hohodai (K.) ] u u j ^ 

u x. A r\it \ \ Hanuabada I 

t^""k H^^ir^'^ \ Poreporena. 

Tanobada (M.) Tanobada 

Guriu (K.) j j 

Between the villages of Hanuabada and Tanobada, the 
houses of which are built on piles on the sandy foreshore, and 
are mostly below high-water mark, there stands a bare grass- 


The Koita 











cz] cz: \ 


CZ] (ZED fel 
CZ) CZI [fej 

CZ] cti 

CZ] ci 

CZ] [Z] CZ] CZ]j 
CZ) CZ) CZ] czii 


CZ] cz[] 



' IZD [Z3 









Geographical and Social Relations 47 

covered hill on which the premises of the London Mission 
Society are situated. 

The general character of the Port Moresby villages is 
well shown in the frontispiece which represents the view from 
a hillside above and slightly to the west of Port Moresby 
looking toward the island of Elevara which occupies the 
middle of the picture. 

Although, as was first pointed out by Chalmers^ the Motu 
must be regarded as an immigrant stock which settled on and 
acquired Koita territory, it by no means follows that the 
Motu colonies invariably settled down in the close vicinity of 
the Koita villages where they are now found. In some 
instances already described, the reverse occurred, and it was 
the Koita who settled near or in continuity with Motu colonies. 
Probably both events happened in the case of the Poreporena 
villages. The Tanobada people were stated to have come 
long ago from the neighbourhood of Taurama in the east, 
whence the Motu state they originally came. Hanuabada 
village is a younger, but still an ancient settlement: its people 
originally lived at Gwamo, somewhere to the west of Tupuselei, 
whence they moved to an island Motuhanua, off the mouth of 
Bootless Inlet, where they stayed some time on terms of close 
friendship with Tupuselei. Presently quarrels occurred which 
led to continual fighting, and the Hanuabada folk were driven 
to make a village to the eastward on Taurama beach, whence 
after a severe defeat inflicted by Tupuselei by means of a 
night attack, they fled to their present site. Here they stayed 
for many years, as already mentioned, and were joined by the 
Hohodai Koita under their chief Ova Abau some three 
generations ago. 

Nothing could be ascertained concerning the origin of the 
Koita village Guriu, which was said to have always existed 
at, or near its present site. The early existence of Koita 
villages near the present site of Guriu Is confirmed by Captain 
Barton, who, as the result of recent investigation, states, that 
the hills immediately behind Hanuabada which overlook 
Poreporena, are covered with old village sites, and suggests 
that ' the Koita had houses on the site of Poreporena before 
the Motu came.' Elevara is a recent colony from Tanobada, 
founded by one Ragagari of Botai iduhu who lived in terror 
of night-prowling Koiari sorcerers. 

^ Pioneering in New Guinea^ London, 1887, pp. 13, 14, 15. 

48 The Koita 

The Koita appear to have had comparatively little intimate 
intercourse with tribes other than the Motu. A very few 
••V. women of Kilals:ila and Baruni villages married Koiari men. 

A certain amount of trade took place between Koita and 
Koiari, and formerly a market was held at uncertain intervals. 
At times Koiari and Koita united to burn grass for hunting 
purposes, and in cases of serious sickness, a Koiari might be 
invited to treat a Koita invalid. In spite of these points 
of contact, and the infrequent tabu festival, to which all 
surrounding villages sent their contingent, there was little real 
amity between the two peoples. The Koiari were looked 
upon as pernicious sorcerers, indeed the dreaded Vatavata, 
according to many, were stated to be only these bushmen in a 
specially malicious mood. 

On the western Koita frontier, Arauwa and Rokuro Kuna 
were constantly embroiled with Kabadi, and although a few 
Gulf and Waima (Maiva) canoes brought areca nut and 
vegetables at uncertain intervals, only in the east were peace- 
able conditions constant. 




The sections of the Koita, and the names of their 
villages, have already been given (p. 41). The inhabitants 
of every Koita village — and this applies to the Motu also — 
are divided into a number of groups called tduku, within 
which descent is counted in the male line. Although the 
word clan will not as a rule be substituted for iduhu, the 
term clansman or clanswoman will be used to avoid such 
cumbrous expressions as * men of the same iduhu! 

The names of the iduhu composing the sections of the 
eastern moiety of the Koita are as follows : 

Gorobe. Gorobe dubu or Gorobe vamaga {gorobe, well, spring ; 

dtibu, black ; vamaga, right). 
Gorobe kai or Gorobe vaga {kai, white ; vaga, left). 
Gorobe Badili. 
Keakone (the name both in Koita and Motu for a 

certain kind of banana. In Motu gea or kea means 

'* gum tree " and kone " beach "). 

Badili. Badili vamaga. 

Badili vaga. 

Badu {baduj Motu angry). 

Koge {koge is the name for the Hood Peninsula spire 
house. It was alleged that the iduhu came from the 
direction of the Hood Peninsula, i.e. the east). 

Dubara {dubara, crab). 

Yarogaha. Yarogaha (a name for the Laloki river, from the banks of 
which the section came, and where they still have land). 

Yawai. Yawai. 


Hohodai. Dubara. 

Taurama (Taurama, a hill name, i.e. Pyramid Hill near 
s. N. G. 4 


The Koita 

Giiriii. Maha (Maha, a place name). 

Variamana (Varimana, a hill, about half-a-mile inland 

from Guriu). 

Baruni^ Mokagaha. 

The local groups of certain iduhu have become extinct, 
as for instance Vaiau and Tupa, in certain villages of the 
eastern Koita. For an iduhu to become extinct, it is not 
necessary that every male member should die, for when greatly 
reduced, iduhu are often absorbed into a stronger iduhu, as 
in Hohodai village, Vaiau and Tupa have both been absorbed 
into Dubara iduhu, though two men, born Vaiau, and a few 
Tupa men, are still living. It was further stated that, when- 
ever an individual or group of individuals settled in a village 
in which his or their iduhu was not represented, they would, 
after a time, assume the iduhu of their immediate neighbours, 
with whom they would probably have been on friendly terms 
for a long time. Thus, according to my informant Taubada, 
the parents of Amago, who belonged to Badili iduhu, 
assumed Tupa iduhu, when living in a village where 
there were no Badili folk. Later, when they settled at 
Hohodai, where again there were no Badili, they were con- 
sidered Dubara, because they built their house alongside the 
Dubara houses. It was necessary for new-comers in a village 
to identify themselves with one of the established iduhu, as 
until they had done so they would not, as a rule, be permitted 
to take up land and make gardens. In spite of this, new- 
comers are not limited to the garden land of the iduhu with 
which they formally identify themselves, for in 1904 the men, 
formerly of Tupa iduhu, who were then living in Hohodai 
village as part of Dubara iduhu, made gardens, not only on 
Dubara and Taurama land, but even on the land which 
belongs to the technically extinct Vaiau iduhu. No meaning 
was obtained for the iduhu name Vaiau. Tupa is the name 
applied to roasted blocks of the interior of the sago pali 
which is eaten in times of scarcity. 

' I am indebted to Captain Barton for this list. 

Clan Badges 51 


Certain iduhu were said to have the right of using par- 
ticular conventional designs called dagina. These are carved 
on wood, or consist of special arrangements of dried grass 
and streamers of dried leaf, the whole sometimes pendant 
from a shell. Such objects were called iduhu dagi, dagi (M. 
toana) being the word for sign or witness, so that the meaning 
of dagi is best expressed by ' badge,' and iduhu dagi is equi- 
valent to ' clan badge.' 

With the exception of the toana flown on the composite 
trading rafts, lakatoi, during the trading voyages known as 
hiri (and which like the hiri itself are essentially Motu), iduhu 
dagi seem to be far advanced in decay among the eastern 
Koita, and at the present day to possess little real significance^ 
Figures ^ a, d, c are dagina on the ends of the rafters support- 
ing the roofs of the verandahs of houses in Hohodai, and are 
said to be the dagina of Dubara, Taurama and Keakone 

Careful inquiry was made in Hohodai and Pari as to the 
meaning of the dagina on the ends of the verandah rafters. 
Though the dagina were almost always called toana, and 
although an iduhu name was so often attached to a particular 
design, as to leave little doubt that the carving in question, 
was, or at one time had been, associated with that iduhu, it 
was unusual to find all the verandah rafters of a house orna- 
mented entirely or predominantly with the design associated 
with its owner's iduhu. The house belonging to Taubada 
was, however, an exception, the ends of all his verandah 
rafters were ornamented with one dagina, said to be the toana 
of Dubara, of which he is still iduhu rohi. These rafters 
were carved by Hara, a Taurama man, as no Dubara was 
considered a sufficiently good craftsman. 

The carvings at the top of the large corner posts of the 
dubu were also said to be toana. Excluding Baruni, which 
was not visited, there is now only one functional dubu among 
the eastern Koita, though the charred and delapidated remains 

^ The hiri, and the customs associated with it, are dealt with by Captain Barton 
in chapter ix. 



The Koita 

of other diihi still exist\ There seemed rather more certainty 
about the meaninof of these dubu toana than about the house 
toana, and their significance is dealt with in connection with 
Xh^ dubu (pp. 6^etseg.). 


There is no dominant or paramount chief of the Koita, or 
of any group larger than a section. Each iduhu has its chief 

(«) {^ kc) 

Fig. 5. Iduhu da^ina of {a) Dubara ; {b) Taurama ; {c) Keakone clans. 

or head man called the iduhu rohi (clan chief). The office 
was, as a rule, hereditary in the direct line, but a chiefs raim\ 
(sister's son) might, and would succeed him if he were child^ 
less, or if his eldest son were too young. In such an event 
the son of the raimu did not as a rule inherit the chieftainshii 

* This was the case in 1904, but Captain Barton informs me that a dubu has 
been built since then in Hohodai village, in front of the house of the village chief. 

Chieftainship 53 

but at the death of his father (i.e. the raimu of the old chief) 
it reverted to the direct line. In this there was, however, 
no absolute rule, and the succession to the office of iduhu rohi 
might be discussed by the old men of the division for a long 
time. Examples of all conditions are met with in the history 
of the last three and the coming iduhu rohi of the three 
Hohodai iduhu, Dubara, Keakone and Taurama. 

Dubara. As far as active work goes Ahuia must be 
regarded as the present iduhu rohi, though his maternal 
uncle Taubada (a by no means inactive, if somewhat crippled 
old man), who inherited the chieftainship from his father Ova 
Abau, still takes an active interest in village affairs. Doubt- 
less part of the influence Ahuia already wields, as a compara- 
tively young man, is to be traced to his being village constable, 
and the interpreter most commonly employed by the Govern- 
ment. His activity and intelligence are however so much 
above the average, that it seems certain he would have ulti- 
mately succeeded Taubada in the chieftainship, even without 
government assistance. At the death of Ahuia, the chieftain- 
ship will revert to Ova Tau, the eldest son of Taubada, who is 
now a small boy. As Ahuia lives with Taubada, there has 
never been any friction in the matter of the pig skull, or jaw 
trophies, described on page 56 which are always presented 
to Taubada. 

Keakone. Goro Arua, the maternal uncle of the present 
iduhu rohi Hedu Gamika, inherited the office from his father 
Arua Boio. On the death or incapacity of Hedu Gamika, 
Homoka Goro, the son of Goro Arua, will become iduhu 

Taurama. Until comparatively recently, there were two 
Taurama iduhu, i.e. Taurama Vamaga and Vaga. Taurama 
Vamaga became much weakened, and was absorbed into 
Taurama Vaga, which then became known as Taurama simply 
and had only one iduhu rohi. Three generations ago, the 
then iduhu rohi of Taurama Vaga, Maraga Kora, having no 
son, adopted Maraga Ganiga of his own iduhu, who on the 
death of Maraga Kora became chief. It is probable that 
Maraga Kora and Maraga Ganiga stood to each other in the 
reciprocal relationship of raimu, i.e. maternal uncle and sister's 
son, but unfortunately I omitted to inquire as to this. At the 
death of Maraga Ganiga, Ganiga Egahu the son of Egahu 
Soso, brother of Ganiga Soso, the true father of Maraga 

54 The Koita 

Ganiga, became iduhti rohi, which office he now holds. 
Ahhough Maraga Ganiga was quite efficient and had a 
suitable son. it was generally thought that Ganiga Egahu 
should be iduliu rohi. which would add weight to the assump- 
tion made above. The successor to Ganiga Egahu has not 
yet been decided, though the question has been much discussed. 
Many hold that his son Arua Ganiga should succeed him, 
others think that Hera Maraga, the son of Maraga Ganiga, 
the late chief, should be iduhu rohi. A third party have 
suggested that Egahu Vani, son of Vani Erogo, the son of 
Erogo Abau (who two generations ago was iduhu rohi of 
Taurama Vagama, i.e. before its fusion with Taurama Vaga) 
should be iduhu rohi, in spite of his being unmarried and 
partially incapacitated by chronic ulceration of the legs. 

In each section of the Koita, one particular iduhu rohi 
was always recognised as chief or head man of the whole 
section, and as such was called rohi ketaike or rohi baugi. 
Usually this office was constant in one iduhu, and since the 
individual filling it was necessarily the iduhu rohi, it was 
hereditary in the same sense, and to the same extent, as was 
the chieftainship of that iduhu. In Dubara iduhu of the 
Hohodai section, this sectional chieftainship was traced back 
to three generations before Ova Abau, when one Nagu Kawea, 
then iduhu rohi of Dubara, was recognized as the leader or 
chief of the whole of his section, this position being subse- 
quently maintained by his son, and the latter's successors. 



The iduhu rohi is in charge of and is responsible for 
sharing out the food at the koriko feasts (chapter xii). He 
takes an important part in determining when these shall be 
held, frequently visiting the gardens of the iduhu and watching 
the ripening of their produce. The bananas for these feasts 
are brought to the house of the iduhu rohi oi the iduhu giving 
the feast, and are left hanging on his verandah until they 
are piled into the heaps described in chapter xii. The 
various iduhu rohi of sections discuss the dates and details of 
approaching feasts and ceremonies, and though they may, and 
often do, exert considerable influence in their iduhu, they have 

Clan and Village Chiefs 55 

no power to enforce their desires against the general sense of 
the older men of the iduhu who represent public opinion. 
But on the other hand the orders they give for the carrying 
out of the minutiae of a ceremony, such as the shifting of food 
to the most convenient spot, or the carrying of large quantities 
of food to another iduhu, are immediately and faithfully 

The iduhu rohi also exert their authority to keep the 
peace in the village, and to mitigate friction between the 
clans. Captain Barton ascertained, that if a man beat or 
otherwise maltreated his wife, the case would be referred to 
the iduhu rohi who would reason with the man. ' In the 
event of the man declining to listen to advice, the iduhu rohi 
washes his hands of the matter, and the result in the old days 
was a general row and fight between the woman's relatives 
and the man's — other people also joining in.' 

Further, questions concerning land are formally brought 
before the iduhu rohi even when there is no quarrel or dis- 
agreement between the parties concerned. The procedure 
— communicated to me by Captain Barton — of the survivors 
of technically extinct local groups is a good example of this. 
Reference has been made on page 50 to two locally extinct 
iduhu, Tupa and Vaiau, the surviving members of which have 
identified themselves with Dubara iduhu. The four Tupa 
families, which in 1904 called themselves Dubara, not only 
made gardens on the land of Dubara iduhu, but also on 
Taurama land, after they had obtained permission from the 
Taurama iduhu rohi, and on Vaiu land after obtaining per- 
mission from the senior remaining member of that iduhu, but 
this permission was subject to confirmation by the iduhu 
rohi of Dubara iduhu. Probably the Dubara iduhu rohi is 
consulted in this instance, because the two remaining Vaiu 
families absorbed into Dubara iduhu are the owners of a 
quantity of land close to Hohodai which they brought to the 
local group of Dubara iduhu. 

Iduhu rohi have certain rights to game killed by all the 
men of their section, as well as rights in all large fish caught, 
though the latter rights are less well defined or perhaps more 
often ignored. When a villager kills a pig, whether wild or 
domesticated, he brings the head, or more frequently half the 
head, sometimes only the lower jaw, to the iduhu rohi of an 
iduhu other than his own. Such gifts are cooked on the 

56 The Koita 

verandah of the iduhu rohi and eaten by the men of all the 
tduku of the section, including the donor and any guests from 
other sections or tribes. There is no special tduku to which 
a man of any particular tduku necessarily presents a portion 
of his kill, indeed the matter appears to be merely a special 
instance of the food exchanges so common throughout New 
Guinea, but it would be extremely bad form for a man not to 
present the appropriate portion to the tduku rohi of one 
of the iduhu of his section, even if his own iduhu owe no 
return for recent like gifts from other iduhu. The bones of 
half heads were not kept, but the whole skulls, or lower jaws 
of pigs, when presented, were carefully fixed on the verandah 
or front of the house of the iduku roki. Thus thirty-three 
jaws and three complete skulls adorn the verandah belonging 
to Taubada. These are frequently referred to with great 
pride by Ahuia, who made the drawing of which Plate VI is 
a reproduction. The loin of wallaby, including the kidneys 
and tail, is presented in the same way to an iduku rohi, and 
among the Motu one forejoint of every turtle is given also. 
The bones of these animals are not however hung up on the 
verandah of the iduku rohi. Big fish are also given to the 
iduhu rohi\ the whole fish is left on his verandah, where at 
his orders a clansman would clean and cook it preparatory to 
the invitation of the iduku roki to the men of the section to 
come and eat it. This fish is always eaten on the verandah 
of the iduku roki, a sick man may however have a portion 
sent to his house. The skulls, and often the vertebral columns 
of fish so eaten, were usually hung from the front eaves of the 
verandah, and the tail of a fish called dakudaku (Caranx sp.) 
is always carefully prepared and preserved (figure 6). Besides 
thesf-, all, or a portion of the withered haulms of bananas 
brought for feasts to the verandah of the iduku roki, are often 
left hanging for a long time. Each iduhu roki owns the front 
right corner post of the dubu, for the maintenance and re- 
newal of which he is held responsible, and this is the invariable 
rule except in those cases in which an iduku joins with other 
iduku to build a common dubu. 

When this occurs the iduku roki of the strongest or tra- 
ditionally most nnportant clan becomes the owner {tauna, lit. 
'master') of the front right post. 

The tauna of the left front post acts as sub-chief, that is to 
say he would assist the tauna of the front right post in making 

Plate VI 

Drawing by Ahuia of pig jaws on his veranda 

Clan and Village Chiefs 


arrangements for feasts and ceremonies connected with the 
dubu. Although the tauna of the two back corner posts of 
the dubu were not considered chiefs or headmen, their rela- 
tion to their posts tended to make them somewhat influential 

The rohi ketaike would adjust land disputes between iduhu, 

Fig. 6. Dried tail of dahudahu. 

for until recently such disputes, when they began between 
individuals not of the same zduku, generally spread, and 
required mediation. It does not, however, appear that other 
quarrels such as those about women (the most frequent cause 
of trouble) and the splitting off of families, were referred to 
the rohi ketaike when the iduhu rohi of the folk concerned 

58 The Koita 

were powerless to effect a reconciliation. In most matters his 
opinion was of practically little more weight than that of any 
iduhu rohi. or perhaps that of any old and influential man. 
On the other hand, in war, his authority, though limited in 
extent, was ereater, as in consultation with the elder men of 
the tribe he would arrange what operations should be under- 
taken. Further, if he could make himself heard, he might by 
his orders stop a battle, or cause the pursuit of the enemy to 
be abandoned. It appears that strangers were not commonly 
put to death, though it was stated that in the old days rokt 
ketaikc would determine whether or no strangers were to be 
killed, and that if a man acting on his own authority had killed 
a stranger belonging to another division of the Koita, his rohi 
ketaike determined, or had a very large part in determining, 
whether the offender should be given up or fought for, in the 
event of the injured section coming to seek vengeance (cf. 
homicide, chapter ix). 


At the present time the influence of the iduhu rohi and 
rohi ketaike is necessarily much diminished. 

Where a number of clans are united into a village one 
man tended, even before the advent of the white man, to 
become headman of the whole village, and it seemed clear 
that in the old days no one who was not a tauna of the front 
right post of his clan's dubu would be accepted as occupant of 
this position. The amount of influence such a man might 
wield would have depended in the old days entirely upon his 
own force of character, while at the present day the backing 
given him by the government is of almost equal importance \ 

' This is illustrated by the condition of affairs at Kwalimarupu (Rigo) and 
Kapakapa. At Kwalimarupu, Seboke of Ligo dogoro^ the tauna of the front right 
post of his clan's dubu is admittedly chief of the whole village, but he exercises no 
authority over the Ligo clansmen in other settlements, even though these settle- 
ments have been formed by people who were themselves under his authority 
at Kwalimarupu. At Kapakapa the tauna of the front right post of the dubu 
of Geabada iduhu^ perhaps the most influential clan, is a man of no influence, and 
at the present day the recognized chief of Kapakapa is Wagi Seri the tauna of the 
left front post of the same dubu^ a man with a good deal of energy and backed by 
the government. Seboke of Kwalimarupu village and Wagi Seri afford fairly 
typical instances of the amount of influence generally wielded by chiefs or headmen 
in the Rij^o district and its neighbourhood ; but how greatly their influence can be 
exceeded when a suitable man arises is shown by the case of Geboka Namo. 
This man is not only chief of his own village (iosoro, but the whole of the eastern 
section of the Garia tribe to which he belongs, admit his authority and follow him 

status Terms 59 

Among the Koita, as elsewhere in British New Guinea, 
in each village under government influence, a native is 
appointed to act as village constable, and is presented with a 
uniform, a truncheon and often handcuffs. It is his duty to 
arrest individuals who have offended against the Native 
Regulations, or whose action threatens a breach of the peace, 
and to bring them before the nearest magistrate. An active 
village constable obviously becomes a 'government chief,' 
and usually uses the prestige attaching to his position, his 
uniform and perhaps his handcuffs, to increase his influence. 
In many matters, however, the old men still continue to play a 
prominent part, their advice is usually sought and taken, and 
their directions obeyed. Thus the elders of the village still 
generally make and direct public opinion upon all important 
matters. In the village system of Poreporena the result of 
the fusion of the old and new methods of government may be 
seen working at its best, but here the position has been un- 
usually simplified by the appointment of Ahuia Ova as village 
constable. Ahuia, besides being of quite unusual intelligence, 
is the nephew and heir of the hereditary rohi ketaike Taubada, 
and so far, his actions, which are usually well considered, 
have not brought him into conflict with older men of the 
tribe to whom * old time ' traditions are dear. 


Certain terms referring to an individual's age and develop- 
ment, and consequently his social standing in the community, 
are in constant use. They are especially applied when dis- 
cussing strangers, and imply some measure of the stranger's 
capacity, but they are never employed as terms of address, in 
the way that terms of relationship are constantly used. The 
corresponding Motu terms are given in a column parallel 
to the Koita words. These terms are : 

in war as they did his father before him. His father indeed was so celebrated a 
fighter that the neighbouring Sinaugolo asked him to lead them in war, and to this 
day the son Geboka Namo, who is recognized as the war chief of the Sinaugolo as 
well as of the Garia, exerts a very real influence among the Sinaugolo. Captain 
Barton states that certain of the people of the Hood Peninsula believe Geboka 
Namo has inherited magical powers from his father. This belief, if shared by the 
Sinaugolo, cannot but have assisted him to attain the position he holds m the 
estimation of this tribe. 

6o The Koita 



baby (male) 

rami karuka 

mero karukaru 

„ (female) 

maiaro karuka 

kekene karukaru 

from weaning to puberty (m.) 






at puberty but too young to marry (m.) 



»» » t^ (*•/ 



marriageable (m.) 



V . (9 



a man in his prime 



a man past his prime, but still active and 

vigorous, though middle-aged 



old man 

ata ?naraga 

tau buruka 

old woman 

jnagi yahu 

hani badena. 

Each of the above terms would be applied successively to 
every normal individual of appropriate sex, as he or she grows 
up and passes through the various social conditions which 
they imply ; but besides these, there are also terms applied to 
certain conditions, comparatively rare in New Guinea but 
common enough among ourselves. These are mabigora (K.), 
hane ulato ko7'ikori (M.), for an elderly unmarried woman 
and wado (K. and M.) applied to old bachelors, and to old 
unmarried women whose breasts have become flaccid. 

Terms of address : These are the same whether or no the 
speaker is of the iduhu of the individual addressed. 

If an erigabe — a man in his prime — were speaking, he 
would address : 

a man older than his father as wahia ; 

a man of his father's generation as raimu ; 

a man of his own (the speaker's) generation as vasi or 
hi age ; 

a man of a younger generation as roro. 

Relatives and connections by marriage are usually ad- 
dressed by their kinship term with the possessive prefix and 


The dubu is, or was, the structure around which centered 
much of the ceremonial life of the village. Plate VII is a 
native drawing (probably by Rabura of Kilakila village) of the 
old dubu of Taurama iduhu of Hohodai village, as it existed 
when the Hohodai section lived at Koge. Typically, the 
dubu consists of an oblong rectangular platform, supported 
by horizontals which pass between opposite pairs of massive 

Plate VII 






Xl. cl/^ ^^, 


Old dubu at Hohodai 

The Dubu 6i 

carved wooden uprights, one of which stands at each corner, 
constituting the most characteristic features of the structure. 
The height of the platform may vary from 3 to lo feet from 
the ground, and in the majority of old dubu there were two 
platforms as in the dubu still standing in the Motu village of 
Gaile (Plate VIII). 

My information regarding the dubu of the Koita is 
somewhat scanty since but few exist at the present day. 
Probably the dubu never bulked quite so largely in the life of 
these people as it did among the Sinaugolo, and cognate 
tribes further east. It certainly has not the same significance 
at the present day, when the majority of the old dubu survive 
only as charred remains or mere platforms of sticks \ In 
spite of this, a serviceable dubu was built by the Gorobe 
section living in Pari village in 1904, on the occasion of this 
section giving a tabu feast^ and the men of Hohodai, who in 

1904 were talking of making a dubu, actually built one in 

1905 or 1906. 

The main points of the Koita dubu system are, however, 
clear. Even when an iduhu has local groups in different 
villages, each local group has the right to a dubu of its own, 
located in its proper village ; and each dubu of the same iduhu, 
wherever located, should bear the same name, though in practice 
the names are not always identical. Apart from these excep- 
tions, for the origin of which no account could be given, the 
name of a particular dubu was always transferred to subsequent 
erections which might, in the course of time, replace the 
original named structure. Further, each of a number of 
iduhu may have the right to use the same name for their 
respective dubu. Where two iduhu are distinguished only by 
the terms idibana and laurina, i.e. ''right" and ''left," and are 
really, or are believed to be, divisions of a single iduhu, the 
reason for their dubu having a common name is clear, but a 
number of iduhu that do not acknowledge any relationship, 
may also have dubu with the same name, without being able 
to give any reason for this. For example, the three Hohodai 
iduhu are Dubara, Taurama, and Keakone, and their respective 
dubu were Gaibodubu, Taurama and Keasisi. In Guriu 
village, both Maha and Varimana iduhu were said to have 
each had a dubu called Ganisa. The dubu of the remaining 

* Cf. Introduction, pp. 17 et seq, 
2 Cf. pp. 62 and 63. 

62 The Koita 

Guriu iihiku (Gaibodubu) was called Gaibodubu and this is the 
name of the dubu of Dubara iduhu of Hohodai village. Again, 
in a plan of Kilakila village given me by Captain Barton, 
a dubu called Gaibodubu is shown as belonging to an iduhu 
called Koge, which appears to have latterly fused with Dubara 
iduhu. At Vabukori another sketch by Captain Barton shows 
the site of a dubu called Gaibodubu belonging to Garobe 
Idibana iduhu, while the new dubu of Part, which belongs 
predominantly to Gorobe Idibana (also called Gorobe Kai 
or Vaga) iduhu has the same name as had the old Gorobe 
Laurina dubu. 

The dubu is, in a limited sense, sacred, and the spirits (sua) 
of the dead are supposed to resort to it at certain times (cf. 
chapter xvi). It is the meeting place of the men when serious 
matters are to be discussed, and on it the successful homicide 
formerly sat in his newly won glory (cf. chapter xi). Except 
during the tabu ceremonial (chapter xii) no woman may 
come on the dubu, and even then the right is limited to un- 
married girls who were related in a special way to the 'master' 
of the feast. 

The corner posts of each dubu are named, the front right 
post vamaga varo being the most honourable. Next comes the 
front left post vaga varo, the back right post dura vamaga, and 
the back left post dura vaga. Each corner post, and indeed 
every plank of the dubu, is the hereditary property of a 
particular individual who is responsible for its upkeep, but the 
corner posts only are of ceremonial importance. When a 
dubu is built by one iduhu, the right front corner post belongs, 
or should belong, to the iduhu rohi of the iduhu, the other 
three posts belong to three other men. A certain prestige 
formerly attached to the possession of each of these posts ; 
this was highest in the case of the owner or ' master ' of the 
left front post, who, as far as I could determine, was looked 
upon only as second in the iduhu to the iduhu rohi. When 
the iduhu in a village are not sufficiently strong for each to 
keep up a dubu of its own, a number of iduhu may join to 
build a dubu in common. This is what happened at Pari in 
1904, when the new Gaibodubu dubu was built. The three 
Gorobe iduhu of Pari, viz. Gorobe Kai, Gorobe Dubu and 
Gorobe Badili, all took part in building it, but two out of the 
four corner posts belong to men of Gorobe Kai iduhu, while 
the men of Gorobe Dubu and Gorobe Badili iduhu have 

The Dubu 63 

but one corner post each. As the resuh of this, Gorobe Kai 
is acknowledged to have a predominant interest in the dubu 
which is called Gaibodubu, i.e. by their dubu name. In cases 
such as this, in which several iduhu unite to build a dubu, the 
front right post belongs to the iduhu rohi of the dominant 
iduhu, the other corner posts being allotted to the iduhu rohi 
or other important men of the other iduhu. 

A dubu has been built in Hohodai village since 1904 for 
information concerning which I am indebted to Captain 

Ahuia Ova — acting iduhu rohi of Dubara iduhu and rohi 
ketaike of the Hohodai section of the Koita — is 'master' of 
the front right post. A man of Keakone iduhu, not iduhu 
rohi, though I believe related to him, is ' master ' of the front 
left post, and men of Taurama and Tupa iduhu are masters 
of the back right and left posts respectively. The mention of 
Tupa iduhu requires some explanation. The Tupa iduhu 
owns land near Korabada, a village about half a mile from 
Akorogo village. There are plenty of Tupa folk still living 
at these two villages, where they cultivate their hereditary 
garden sites, but they own no land close to Hohodai. One 
Iga Maba was the father of Mabata Iga, who left the village 
of Kaugere which is now extinct, but which formerly stood 
near Akorogo. He settled at Hohodai. His first wife was 
a woman of Kaugere, and he had issue by her a son, Mabata 
Iga, the * master' of the left back post of the new Hohodai 
dubu. He did not go to Hohodai until his first wife had died, 
but while living there, he married a woman named Ova 
Vateta, of the Taurama iduhu, by whom he had a number of 
children. These children should of course have belonged to 
Tupa iduhu, but as this iduhu was too weak to assert itself, 
the family temporarily merged its identity in Taurama iduhu. 
At the time of the building of the new dubu, this family, 
together with a number of Tupa families, who for some years 
had been living as part of Dubara iduhu, felt strong enough 
to assert their autonomy as an iduhu, and to claim the right 
to a corner post in the new dubu. 

Most dubu — I believe I am justified in saying all dubu — 
are built in preparation for a tabu feast, and each is built in 
that part of the village in which the houses of the iduhu to 
which it belongs are situated and often on the site of a 
previous dubu. In the following account of the orientation of 


The Koita 

the dubu, it has been assumed that all dubu are, or should be, 
first built on the occasion of a tabu feast. One aspect of the 
dubu is regarded as its front, and the dubu is so planned, that 
this faces the front of the dubu of the iduhu who gave that 
tab^l feast which was regarded as a challenge to the iduhu 
building the new dubu. I believe that if no recent tabu feast 
had been held, the dubu would have been built so that it faced 
the direction of the dubu or dubu site of the iduhu expected to 
give the next tabu feast. Captain Barton's plan of the dubu 
of the Motu village of Gaile (figure 7) shows how these 
dubu face each other. 




















A - Keabada Idibana 
8 ■ «• Laxtrina 

D = Noutubuna Laiirina 
H * Nokoro LaTxrina 
E = Konagoro Idibana 
F = " Laiirina 

fVonjt* of Dubu. aKcKwn, Ouls I 

Fig. 7. Plan of dubu at Gaile. 

It was said that the carved terminals of the corner posts 
of the Koita dubu were iduhu dagina, i.e. belonged to the 
class of carvings that I have called clan badges. The same 
held true in some cases for the carved ends of the horizontals, 
whether these were massive and upheld the platform, or 
slender, and were themselves supported between the terminals 
of the corner posts, in which case they were used as supports 
for bunches of bananas hung there during certain feasts. 

But as in the case of the horizontals of houses, so with the 
terminals of dubu posts ; there was no precision in the use of 
the iduhu dagi, for badges might be carved on posts belonging 
to men of iduhu with which they were not associated, and 
even the oldest men showed hesitation and doubt in identi- 
fying more than one or two iduhu dagi. Further I could not 

The Dubu 65 

ascertain the meaning of the head, carved on one of 
the corner posts of the new Gaibodubu dubu of Pari, or 
whether it is or ever was an iduhu dagi, though the fact that 
carved heads are represented in a native drawing as ter- 
minals of the corner posts of the old dubu of Taurama iduhu 
at Koge village, may be taken to show that the human head 
was a recognized carving for the corner posts of old Koita 

The Koita have no legends of the origin of the dubu, nor 
could any information be obtained on this point. 

1 This matter could not, however, be investigated at all thoroughly. I was only 
able to visit the village after the dubu had been erected for a couple of hours, very 
shortly before leaving the Possession, and not only was my time short but I was 
without a competent interpreter. 


S. N. G. 



Among the Koita, each house contains only members of 
a single family, and typically consists of parents and children, 
with perhaps a surviving grandparent or great aunt or uncle. 
Bachelor or widowed brothers and sisters, however, often live 
with their married relatives, and so help to swell the house- 
hold w^hich, nevertheless, does not usually exceed half a dozen 
souls ; indeed, a count taken by Ahuia, shows that the 
average population per house in Hohodai and Guriu scarcely 
rises above five\ 


Among the Koita, the system of kinship is ' classificatory.' 
The actual relationships implied by the Koita terms which 
I give below, were obtained by means of genealogies, and no 
reliance was placed on the English terms given to me as the 
equivalent of a Koita or Motu term^ For convenience, the 
corresponding Motu terms are given in brackets, 
Wahia (M. Tubu), grandfather, grandmother or any older 
ancestor, granduncles or grandaunts, grandchildren, 
grandnephews and nieces or any of these relations by 
Mama (M. Tama), father, paternal uncle. 
Nena (M. Sina), mother, maternal aunt. 

* The actual figures are : 

Hohodai. Dubara iduhu, 8 houses with 53 inhabitants. 





» 32 





» 45 





» 67 





„ 16 





„ 21 

Owing to the destruction of a page of notes, this list is incomplete. 

Privileges of Certain Kin 67 

Ga7ne (M. Natu), son, daughter, brother's son. 

Nana (M. Kaka), elder brother, sister or cousin. 

Roro (M. Tadi), younger brother, sister or cousin. 

Rairmi (M. Vava), maternal uncle, sister's child, father's sister's 

Vazya (M. La/a), father's sister, maternal uncle's wife, brother's 

Sida (M. /ka), brother-in-law, sister-in-law, cousin's husband, 

or wife. 
Waru (M. Rawa), mother-in-law, father-in-law, son-in-law, 

Mabara (M. Adawa), husband, wife. 

There is no special reciprocal term of relationship in use 
between the children of two brothers or sisters. 


A boy usually receives his first perineal band {sihif from 
his maternal uncle [raimu), and in return owes him certain 
services. If with him in a canoe, the younger man does the 
greater part of the work, and prepares and cooks food. On 
land, he helps his maternal uncle in his garden work. In a 
general way he performs the same services for his mama, 
whether father or paternal uncle, though a maternal uncle is 
supposed to exert more authority than any mama. To illustrate 
this, Ahuia instanced the hiri, the annual trading cruise to the 
Gulf for sago. A man or boy might refuse to accompany his 
father or paternal uncle (mama), but would always go with his 
maternal uncle (raimu) without demur. Folk who are recipro- 
cally raiTnu, freely borrow from each other even such valuable 
articles as nets or canoes, but on returning them, invariably 
mention any damage which may have befallen the property 
while in their possession. The owner then determines 
whether the borrower shall make this good. 

Neither men nor women avoid their relations-in-law, even 
waru (father-in-law and daughter-in-law, mother-in-law and 
son-in-law) and siba (brother- and sister-in-law) associate 
freely, both in the house and gardens, and siba take food from 
each other's gardens, and borrow each other's canoes or other 
property. That the loan of these articles by a man to his 

^ For assumption of sihi, cf. p. T^)- 


68 The Koita 

sister-in-law is no part of the bride-price, is clear, for they are 
invariably returned, even when borrowed by a woman from 
her son-in-law or brother-in-law. Further, a man exercises 
an equal privilege with regard to the property of his siba and 
waru. As a rule borrowed property is returned in as good a 
condition as when borrowed ; thus a man who lends his 
brother a net would expect the latter to return it in good 
condition, and if it be torn, not to return it until he has 
mended it, but this rule does not apply to relations-in-law, 
and a relation-in-law might, if he wished, return a torn net 
with the scantest apology, without exceeding his rights. 

Reference is made under death (chapter xiv) and revenge 
to the services incumbent on men united by the henamo 
bond of friendship. 


In a general way every member of a section knows and 
maintains friendly relations with all other members of his 
own sex, but he takes little notice in public of women or 
girls not closely related to himself. Outside a man's own 
section — it must be remembered that section and village are 
often synonymous — there are a number of villages with which 
traditionally friendly relations are maintained, and whose older 
men would certainly know, and be well known by the greater 
number of the people. But beyond this, certain families 
maintain a traditional and hereditary friendship with certain 
other families in villages comparatively little known to them, 
or with whom they were formerly hostile. As an example of 
this, Ahuia cited one Ganiga Soso, the friendship of whose 
family with a particular Idu family dated back three genera- 
tions, i.e. to the time when Hohodai and Idu were constantly 
at enmity'. 

Specially good friends, of whom a man may have any 
number, are called vasila (M. ketura). When visiting aliei 
villages, a man stays with his vasila^ no matter what his iduhi 
may be, and it is stated that he does not marry, or have con- 
nection with the sister of his vasila, whom he would cal| 

' My informants could not give me any reason for this or other similal 

Friendship 69 

taihu^. The relationship of vasila is entered into after being 
duly discussed by the contracting parties. The ceremony 
consists in their formally smoking and chewing betel to- 

A closer relationship than vasila is constituted by the 
henamo bond. Properly speaking this can only exist between 
children of the same sex, born on the same day, in certain 
villages and whose fathers have, on the occasion of their 
birth, exchanged certain presents. Nevertheless it is common 
to hear Motu and Koita children, when playing together, call 
each other henamo indiscriminately. Some of our Motu boys 
applied the term to certain men of the eastern extremity of 
the Possession, with whom they became friends on visiting 
their islands with us. It Is further stated, that boys going on 
a hiri together would sometimes become fast friends, and 
after an interchange of gifts would consider themselves 
henamo in the strictest sense of the word. 

The folk of the following villages are said to be capable 
of becoming reciprocally henamo : Tatana, Elevara, Baruni, 
Tanobada, Hanuabada, Hohodai, Guriu, Akorogo, Kllaklla, 
Korabada. Thus Motu and Koita may be united In the 
henamo bond. 

Soon after the birth of possible henamo, the father of one 
of the children presents the father of the other with a dog, 
a pig, or an armshell. In return, a present Is made of equal 
value, and nearly always of the same nature as that given. 
As far as circumstances allow, the children play and grow up 
together. When the time comes for them to receive their 
first sihi, they are presented to them by the maternal uncle 
(raimu) of one of them, in the customary manner described 
on p. 73. If the villages of the henamo are too far apart, 
each receives his sihi in the ordinary way from his own 

Ahula and Waigamu, a Motu of Mavara Idibana iduhu 
are henamo, and both received their sihi from the latter's 
raimu. After this, Ahula called this man raimu, and the 
mother, father, wife, brothers, sisters and children of his 
henamo were spoken of by the same relationship terms as 
those used to designate his own relatives. 

1 Captain Barton points out that this is scarcely correct, and that a man does 
sometimes marry the sister of his vasila, but never has connection with her other- 
wise. The same authority in answer to a question says ' Taihu, a Motu word 
means a man's sister or female cousin, or a woman's brother or male cousm.' 

yo The Koita 

A man may not marry or have connection with the sister 
of his hetiarno. In following up a blood feud a kenamo comes 
before the dead man's brother. In spite of this, there is no 
customary obligation for a man especially to befriend the 
widow or children of his dead kenamo. 

Girls may become kenamo in the same way as boys, but 
the relationship is not by any means so serious, and is often 
allowed to drop when one of the parties marries. Ahuia 
explained that experience had shown that girls were *no good 
for kenamo.' 

Henamo are mates in every way, they share their food, 
and go hunting and fishing together, and in battle, they would, 
as far as possible, stay side by side. Instances of special 
functions pertaining to henamo are given under death (chap- 
ter xiv) and homicide (chapter ix). 


Adoption, ubuia (M. keubu) is not uncommon. Girls are 
more commonly adopted than boys, because their fathers do 
not often care to part with the latter. Usually the adopter is 
a great friend of the father of the adopted child, and the latter 
asks the former to help him to feed one of his children. It 
seems that such a request is never refused ; the adopted child 
assumes its adopter's iduku, calls him father, and if a girl, her 
adopted father receives her marriage-price. It is not con- 
sidered etiquette for a man to offer to adopt a child, he should 
wait until he is asked. A sick man may, before dying, ask a 
friend to adopt one of his children, or he may even divide his 
children among his friends, who will immediately take charge 
of them. If any of them be very small, the friends postpone 
the adoption until they are weaned. The mother has no right 
to suggest that her children be adopted, and it is stated that 
no Koita would think of asking a Motu to adopt one of his 
children, or vice versa. 

A condition which may, for convenience, be called temporary 
adoption often occurs. If a man has more children than he 
can feed comfortably, he asks a friend to take charge of one 
of them for some years. In such circumstances, although 
the child calls its adopted father, and his relatives, by the same 
term as he would call his blood relatives, he keeps his true 

Heni Ceremony 71 

father's iduhu. Although, as above stated, a man does not, as 
a rule, offer to adopt a child, it is not considered bad form to 
offer to take charge of one for a few years. Occasionally if 
a man marries a widow with children, he adopts one or more 
of them. One Ganiga Soso, a man of Taurama iduhu of 
Hohodai village, lived for some time at Idu, where he married 
a woman Boio Seri ; after his marriage he remained at Idu for 
some time, and when his wife proved barren with him, he 
adopted Vaguya Ganiga, her child by her previous husband. 


The same names are used for individuals of both sexes. 
A child is usually named soon after its birth, but the name it 
is to bear may be determined before its birth. This was the 
case with Vaguya Momoru, so named before birth, after his 
dead brother of that name. 

All children have two names, one of these must be one of 
the father's names, usually the first, the child's other name can 
be given by any relative or friend, who need not be of the 
child's iduhu : he, however, can only give the child one of his 
own names. Sometimes, as in the following instance, this is 
done when a favour is asked. Re Maraga, brother-in-law to 
Ahuia, recently became the father of his fifth child; soon after 
the birth, his wife sent one of her elder children to ask Ahuia 
for some calico. He immediately gave it, but when sending 
it he stated that he should like the infant to be named after 
him, and this was done, the child being called Ahuia Re. 

Sometimes a child takes both its father's names in inverted 
order, but as far as I know this only occurs in the case of male 
children, and is by no means a common practice. 

No actual or moral responsibility for the child is incurred 
by its name-giver. 


A special ceremony called heni, takes place in connection 
with a first born child of either sex. When the child is some 
three or four weeks old it is decked with as much New 
Guinea finery, toia, mairi, doa, tautau, as possible, and carried 

72 The Koita 

by its mother, similarly decked, to her mother's house'. She 
is accompanied by her sister-in-law who walks behind carrying 
an empty pot {hodji), a spear, a petticoat and a firestick. The 
child's father stays quietly in his own house. The infant's 
mother and her sister-in-law sit down in the house of the 
child's grandmother, smoke, yarn and chew betel. Presently 
the infant's yaiya, i.e. the wife of its maternal uncle, strips 
the ornaments off the mother and child, and these, with the 
spear, pot, and petticoat go to the raimu and wahia on the 
maternal side. These relations keep some, but give the rest 
away to their clansmen. In reality they do but repay such of 
their clansmen as have helped them to make up the precisely 
equivalent return present which should be given before the 
mother and child leave the house, and which will be divided 
amono- the infant's fathers relatives. Plate IX is a native 


drawing of the ceremony, the child's aunt carries a firestick 
only, and on both figures the tattoo is much exaggerated. 


For the following account I am indebted to Captain 
Barton : 

' I have not seen this operation performed, and it is 
difficult to ascertain exactly how it is done. This is what 
I gather from my informants : the operation is performed 
when the child is about one year old. A split ring is formed 
either by grinding down one of the vertebrae of a shark, or 
by taking a narrow transverse section of a crab's leg, and 
cutting across the ring in one place. The lobe of the ear is 
stretched, and the ring then opened and slipped on to it, the 
points of the split ring being opposite each other, gradually 
penetrate the ear, and the place gets sore. As soon as the 
hole thus formed is considered large enough, the ring is 
taken off, and a piece of wood put in the ear lobe to keep the 
hole open.' 


The septum of the nose is pierced when a child is some 
eight or ten years old. A piece of the dark wood gari, of 

* Toia^ main, doa, tautau, are the names of valuable ornaments described in 
chapter vi. 





'^•i^C'"^^ ' •' ^^^ iauM«^^iHttS**li*?^. 

;^ i ^^ -^ 


J -^. 


X .^ 4 ^ J - ^ 






74 The Koita 

amount of skin surface covered in different girls of the same 
age, there is a fixed general order in which the parts of the 
body are tattooed. The following account is contributed by- 
Captain Barton, who has also provided the photographs 
illustrating it, a matter of considerable difficulty, the camera 
scarcely differentiating between the bluish colour of the 
tattoo, and the copper coloured skin of the Koita, so that It 
was necessary to paint the patterns afresh, before the photo- 
graphs could be taken. The painting was done with the 
mixture of soot and oil, which is used in the process of 
tattooing, but In spite of the skill with which this was applied, 
the lines of the design present a coarser appearance In the 
photographs than is warranted by the really beautiful harmony 
which exists between the tattoo patterns and the copper 
coloured skin into which they are pricked. 

Girls at the age of five or thereabouts, are tattooed on 
the arms from the hands to the elbows, and from the elbows 
to the deltoid region ; soon after, the face is tattooed, 
beginning usually with the chin and nose. At the age of 
six or seven, the region around the vulva and upwards over 
the lower abdomen as far as the navel Is tattooed ; this 
region is known in tattooing as kiudori (vulva top). Next 
follows the region kiubadi (vulva trunk or base), that is the 
upper part of the front, and the Inner surface of the thighs. 
The girl is as a rule then left till she is about ten years 
old, when the armpits and the areas extending from each 
armpit toward the nipple are tattooed ; this region is called 
kadidiha (arm pit). Plate X represents a girl of about 
ten ; the whole of her thighs have however been painted 
for tattoo. The throat, from the suprasternal notch upwards 
to the chin is done next ; after this there follows an Interval, 
during which the existing markings are gone over. When 
puberty Is approaching or is actually reached, the back is 
tattooed from the shoulders downwards, then the buttocks 
and back of the thighs. The second figure on Plate X shows 
the shoulders, back, buttocks and thighs painted as they 
would shortly be tattooed'. 

The final markings are those between the umbilicus and 
the breast, the gado (the V-shaped mark on the chest), the 

* The marks tattooed on this girl's legs below the knees are lakatoi dagtna^ 
and may be assumed only by the daughters of men who have been doritauna or 
baditauna on a lakatoi^ cf. chapter viii. 

Plate XI 

Tattooed Girl showing gado 

Tattoo 75 

gadogado (on the nape of the neck) and the designs on the 
lower legs. The gado and the gadogado are added about 
the time that marriage is recognized, while the markings 
between the navel and the breast are assumed rather earlier, 
usually when it is decided that marriage shall take place. 
Plate XI represents the upper half of the body of a girl 
painted as if she were about to marry. 



Among the Koita as among the Motu, unmarried girls 
are perfectly free to receive their lovers at night in their 
parents' houses. The favoured boy waits until the house is 
quiet, and the fire low, when he slips into the house and 
makes his way to the girl's side. Conversation is carried 
on in low tones, and it is etiquette for the boy to retire 
quietly before daylight. Should he, however, oversleep him- 
self nothing more serious than a little chaff results, marriage 
is not seriously suggested, it is certainly not looked upon as a 
duty or even as specially desirable. 

Betrothal results as soon as a boy and girl who have been 
enjoying a period of unwedded happiness consider it well 
to get married. The proposal in the first instance always 
comes from the girl, while they are together at night, and is 
never directly refused by the boy. Should he not desire 
marriage he assents at the time, but later sends a friend, 
usually his henamo, to say that he does not wish to marry, 
and himself takes no further steps in the matter. A girl 
does not as a rule allow a boy who has refused her offer of 
marriage to visit her again. As soon as a girl is betrothed, 
the hitherto bare region from the level of the navel to the 
breasts, extending laterally to the mid axillary line, is tattooed, 
Koita and Motu using the same pattern. Any woman who 
is accustomed to tattoo may officiate, receiving a present of 
food for her good offices. The young couple continue their 
nocturnal meetings during the whole time of betrothal. 

During the period of betrothal the boy gives the girl 
small presents of tobacco and areca nut, he is also supposed 
to pay similar small attentions to her relatives. He formally 

Courtship and Marriage 77 

announces his desire to marry the girl by sending a present 
to the girl's brother of a panicle of areca nuts, with an appro- 
priate amount of pepper and lime, using his own brother or 
sister as intermediary. The girl's brother tells his sister that 
so-and-so wants to marry her and has sent areca nuts and 
asks her if he shall eat them. If she assents he takes the nuts 
to his own or his father's house, whence he sends invitations 
to his relatives to come and chew with him. His messenger 
at the same time spreads the news that so-and-so wishes to 
marry their relative. When the girl's relations have assembled 
the matter is talked over and her brother distributes the nuts. 
It is said that the nuts may be sent back if general disap- 
proval be expressed, but it seems that in practice the matter 
does not reach this stage unless the marriage is to take place. 
If no objections be raised, everyone is soon busy chewing and 
discussing the marriage. After this the girl's relatives go 
home each taking the uneaten remains of his or her share of 
the nuts. A few days later the bridegroom gives the girl's 
brother another, and usually a larger present of areca nuts 
and pepper, which is distributed and eaten in the same way. 
If the bridegroom cannot provide sufficient nuts, he may give 
the girl's family sago instead. The bridegroom meanwhile 
sets about collecting the price he will have to pay for his 
bride. This, called damu (M. dava) is collected, not only 
from his near relatives, but from the whole of his iduhu. 
A man of a small or almost extinct iduhu must borrow as 
best he can from friends of other iduhu. No definite price 
is arranged with the girls' relatives, but there is a generally 
recognized amount which is made up. The Rev. Dr Turner 
recorded in 1876, that ten armshells was the price of a wife\ 
At the present day the price is higher. Ahuia Ova paid for 
his wife Gali, 43 toia, of various sizes and value, three pigs 
and 100 dog's teeth (enough to make a neck ornament), while 
one Rahu paid 40 toia, four hatchets, two bush knives, and 
200 dog's teeth for his wife Henaul 

Shortly before marriage, or when the date is actually 
fixed, the V-shaped mark gado is tattooed on the bride elect. 
When the boy is ready to receive his bride he sends his 
mother, or if she be dead his sister, to tell the bride's mother 

^ Turner, loc. cit.^ p. 479. 

2 I am indebted to Captain Barton for these figures as well as for much of the 
information contained in this chapter. 

j8 The Koita 

of his wishes. That night the bride prepares a sleeping mat 
for the bridegroom, who now comes to her pubHcly, before 
the house is quiet for the night. The bride is specially 
decorated on her marriage night. Her hair, in which she 
may wear scarlet hibiscus blossoms, is dressed with coconut 
oil and combed out to its fullest extent. In her ears she 
wears many earrings made of turtleshell and the ground 
down top of a small shell of the genus Conns. Her face 
is decorated with lines of red paint, her armlets, gana, are 
reddened, and in them she wears the leaves of an odoriferous 
plant segado (M. odu). The genitals, which have been 
previously epilated, and her thighs are smeared with coconut 
oil, and she wears a new petticoat. The bridegroom comes 
to her wearing a head-dress of cassowary feathers, beneath 
which, worn as a frontlet, are three rows of tautau. Behind 
the head-dress of cassowary feathers are placed white cockatoo 
feathers. He wears a number of the dried tails of village 
pigs in his ears and his face is painted with red and yellow 
streaks. His gana are reddened. At dawn husband and 
wife decamp to the husband's house, which is almost always 
his father's, but before going, the boy leaves on the mat on 
which he and his wife have slept, two toia or doa. These 
called, gabuato, are kept by the girl's parents, and not 
divided among the iduhu as is the damuy which is brought a 
little later to the house of the bride's parents by her husband's 
mother, sisters and yaiya. Each of the bride's female relatives 
then takes a pot (of the kind called hodu) full of water, to 
the house of one of the bridegroom's relatives, the bride's 
sister, or failing her the bride's brother's wife, taking her hodu 
to the bridegroom's house. After this each of the bride's 
relatives takes some food to the house of that relative of the 
bridegroom at which she has left her hodu. She there cooks 
the food which is eaten by the householder and his family. 

Two days after the marriage the bridegroom's relatives 
send a further present, called betube (M. hetu), to the bride's 
parents. This consists of ornaments and nets or spears or 
a dog or pig with some vegetable food, and it is divided 
among the members of the bride's local group. Next day 
the bride's parents make a return present of equal value and 
as far as possible of similar objects to the bridegroom's 
parents. This also is called betube. For about the first 
fortnight of their married life, the bride and bridegroom sleep 

Courtship and Marriage 79 

In the bride's father's house. Although the behtbe Is the last 
of the presents exchanged In immediate connection with the 
wedding, reciprocal presents of food are made by the two 
families for years, in fact, an exchange of presents of food 
goes on for an indefinitely long period, and only ceases when 
one party omits to perform Its part of the exchange. 

When a woman marries she takes her husband's iduhu, 
and should she become a widow she may stay with her 
husband's iduku, in which case she retains her rights In that 
zduhu, or otherwise she returns to her relatives and resumes 
her maiden iduhu. It seems that childless widows more often 
return to their own people, than do those with children. If a 
widow with children returns to her old iduhu, she only takes 
with her such children as have not yet attained to puberty. 
Although supported by their mother and her kin, these 
children keep their fathers iduhu, and later, the children 
return and build a house on the site of their father's house. 

When a widow remarries, not only has her second husband 
to pay the usual damu to her maiden iduhu, but the relatives 
of her first husband also have the right to demand substantial 
payment laraha, even If her second marriage be into her 
deceased husband's local group. 

No levirate exists. In fact It Is stated that marriage with a 
deceased husband's brother does not occur ; on the other hand, 
the marriage of a widow, with a son of a brother or sister 
of her deceased husband's father, although not compulsory, is 
considered an especially suitable match. Thus in the old 
days. If Garia had died, Vaguya Kalahu, Ganlga Egahu and 
Arua Egahu, all sons of his paternal uncles, would probably 
have settled among themselves who should marry his widow, 
Mabata Hedu. If Garia lost his wife, he should before 
turning elsewhere, have considered the desirability of marry- 
ing a daughter of one of his late wife's brothers or sisters. 
In this type of marriage a dowry, including laraha if the 
bride be a widow, is paid as in ordinary marriage \ 

Polygyny is not uncommon. As a rule each wife has a 
house of her own, built on her husband's village site, and it is 
said that these houses descend to her children. 

^ The reason given by Ahuia, after some hesitation, was : ' Because if the 
woman has a child by her deceased husband it is desirable to keep the child in the 
iduhu ; if the widow married a man of another iduhu, the child would be absorbed 
into his iduhu.' But it is obvious that this reason does not explain why a widower 
should marry the daughter of one of his deceased wife's brothers or sisters. 

8o The Koita 


If a man desired he might send away his wife for 
infidelity, or he might simply give her a severe thrashing. 
If he actually discovered his wife with a lover, he might kill 
both, but this was only allowed if he caught them in flagrante 
delicto. Under other circumstances he could simply divorce 
the woman, and get damages from her lover. The usual 
proceeding is for a man to send his erring spouse to her lover 
with a request for the amount of the marriage price [damu) 
he has paid for her. This adultery price, like that paid for a 
widow, is called laraha, and must be paid ; if the lover's own 
local group will not help him, he has to make the amount up 
as best he can. Only a portion of the adultery price [laraha)y 
paid by a lover, is kept by the aggrieved husband, the rest he 
shares among his clansmen. The divorced woman may live 
with her lover, if he be unmarried, or if, being married, his 
wife make no objection. She may however return to her 
own folk, her children remaining with their father, except 
perhaps in the case of a very young child, who, if a boy, will 
later be sent back to his putative father. A girl child may or 
may not be sent back ; in the latter event she is considered to 
belong to her mother's iduku. Although her clansmen bring 
her marriage price to her putative father, who, I understand, 
inspects and approves it, he does not accept it but tells her 
clansmen to divide it among themselves. 

Barrenness is not in itself a cause of divorce, and I am 
under the impression that childless marriages are not very 
uncommon. Bad temper and idleness on the part of a 
woman may lead to divorce. If a girl runs away from 
her husband on the score of his infidelity, unless she returns 
very shortly her father must hand over to her husband the 
damu which the latter has paid. A woman sometimes leaves 
her husband on account of constant neglect. This was 
done by one Vanitau who left her husband two months after 
marriage, and since then has lived with her own folk and 
resumed her maiden iduku. According to Ahuia Ova, she 
wiis justified in doing this, since not only did her husband 
not cohabit with her, but he avoided her on all possible 
occasions, and insulted her by refusing to eat the food she 
had cooked. 

Marriage 8i 


Seventy-six marriages were recorded in the genealogies of 
a number of Hohodai Koita. 

These have been used as material for studying the 
regulation of marriage in the eastern moiety of the Koita. 
Although the direct continuity of Hohodai village with that 
of the Motu cannot but have increased the amount of local 
intermarriage, in other respects the conclusions reached will 
probably hold good for other sections of the eastern group of 
the Koita. Since tribal and clan {iduhu) descent is counted 
through the male line, the results arrived at cannot be taken 
as a measure, however rough, of the amount of ethnic inter- 
mixture that has taken place in the two tribes. Thus socially, a 
man would be considered a Koita, whether [a) he were of pure 
Koita stock for four generations, or [b) he had a Koita father, 
himself the progeny of a Koita man and a Motu woman, and 
a mother of pure Motu parentage for many generations. The 
examination of the recorded marriages does, however, roughly 
indicate to what extent the two people have united socially, 
and these unions are at once the explanation and the con- 
sequence of the adoption by the Koita of Motu crafts and 
customs. They also afford valuable information regarding 
such matters as marriage within the village and within 
the iduhu. 


Of the 76 marriages recorded, 37, or 48*6 7o s-i'^ between 
individuals, both of whom are considered Koita. In nine 
instances, or 1 1 "6 7o» hoth parties are Motu. Of the remaining 
30 unions, 28 or nearly 2il 7o' ^^^ mixed Koita-Motu 
marriages, while two instances constituting 2*6 °/^ of the total 
are doubtful, my informants being uncertain of the origin of 
one of the contracting parties. 


This is customary among both Koita and Motu, and there 
is not the least reason to suspect, that of old, the custom was 
otherwise. On the whole, 1 am inclined to believe that it is 

S. N. G. 6 

82 The Koita 

more frequent among the Motu than the Koita, perhaps 
because the villages of the former are larger. 

Of the 'i^'] pure Koita marriages, in no instance is either 
party a member of the western moiety of the Koita. In 
II of these marriages, the union is between individuals 
belonging to one or other of the sections of the eastern 
moiety, excluding Baruni. In only two instances has a 
Baruni man or woman intermarried with the other sections of 
the eastern moiety. In fact, with the exception of Baruni, 
which, as already stated, stands rather apart, the table given 
on page 43 illustrates intermarrying, as well as hostile 
groups, those sections which are not usually at enmity, 
intermarrying more or less freely. Of the 28 mixed Koita- 
Motu marriages, 27 are between neighbouring Koita and 
Motu villages. In one instance only, and that a very recent 
one, brought about by the bridegroom working for a white 
man, did union take place between a Koita boy and a Motu 
girl whose villages Hohodai and Gaile are some ten miles 


It is frequently asserted by both Koita and Motu, that 
individuals ' if they like ' may marry within the iduhu, and it 
is said that this was so even in the old days. The figures on 
this point are striking ; of the 2il pure Koita marriages 
recorded, only one, and that a rather recent union, took place 
between members of the same iduku. Among the Motu such 
marriages are, however, common enough. In the nine Motu 
marriages recorded there were four instances, while in another 
series of twelve Motu marriages, five are within the iduku. 
Six of these marriages took place, two or three generations 
ago, and of these, three were within the iduku. 


Ultimately, the regulation of marriage depends on the 
avoidance of marriage within the forbidden degrees, which 
extend to third cousins ; it has been seen that marriage 
within the iduku is, and always has been, rare, in spite of 
there being no avowed objection to the practice. Further, 


Marriage 83 

it has been shown, that a large proportion of marriages take 
place between individuals of the same or neighbouring villages. 
This fact, perhaps, gives a clue to the rarity of marriages 
within the iduhu in spite of the fact that there is no avowed 
objection to the practice. Since even third cousins are not 
allowed to marry, experience may have shown, that it is 
generally impossible for men and women of the same iduhu 
to marry without infringing the law of consanguinity. 


The 76 marriages recorded include only four instances of 
polygyny, but it is probable that the custom was once more 
frequent than these figures indicate. 




Pregnancy is diagnosed by the darkening of the nipple 
and areola ; cessation of the catamenia is apparently con- 
sidered a later and less reliable sign. It is stated that a 
single sexual act is not sufficient to produce pregnancy, to 
ensure which cohabitation should be continued steadily for 
a month. The Koita have remarked that the advent of the 
catamenia and the development of the breasts occur together, 
and I gathered that this led to the belief that the flow con- 
sisted of blood, which in some way had come from the breasts, 
and certainly the foetus was supposed to be formed of blood 
derived from the breasts. 

While pregnant a woman must not cohabit, she continues 
in her husband's house, but she may not eat bandicoot, 
echidna, certain fish, and the large lizard ( Varanus sp.) known 
as iguana. She should also avoid walking about at night lest 
labour be unduly prolonged. 

labour and care of child. 

A woman is confined in her husband's or mother's house. 
She squats on a coconut husk grasping a rope which hangs 
from the rafters, and leans back against a woman, usually her 
sister, who sits behind her, and clasps her firmly round the 
waist. Two other women, usually another sister and her 
mother-in-law, squat in front, on each side of her. Each has 
charge of one abducted and flexed leg, on which she exerts 
counter pressure. Facing the parturient woman sits herj 
mother, ready to receive the child as soon as it appears. 
Should labour be unduly prolonged, the child's father is sent 
for. He, after having opened any boxes there may be in th( 

Care of Child 85 

house — and in the Port Moresby villages there are few house- 
fathers who have not at least one camphor wood box — sits 
down near his wife and proceeds to untie the cord which 
confines his hair, and to remove the^^a:;^^ from his arms. If 
this does not improve matters her brother is sent for, and he 
in his turn removes hair band and gana ; should this fail a 
' medicine woman ' is the last resource. She chews aromatic 
bark, and spits the fragments over the labouring woman's 
abdomen, and then embraces her tightly. For this she 
receives a big fee, which is, however, returned if the patient 

Directly the child is born, its maternal grandmother cuts 
the umbilical cord with a sliver of bamboo, at a point the 
length of the child's thigh from its navel. The cord is never 
tied or twisted, and no dressing is applied to the cut surface 
in continuity with the child's body, nor is any toilette of the 
stump attempted when the dried portion drops off The 
afterbirth, momo, is placed in a wide mouthed clay pot in 
which it remains till early the next morning. The young 
mother then wades shoulder high into the sea, and breaks the 
pot, leaving the fragments and the placenta to sink. It is 
considered important that the young mother should herself 
dispose of the afterbirth, but if she cannot, her mother will 
act for her. 

The child is washed in warm water, by its maternal or 
paternal grandmother, and this is done daily, as long as its 
mother is confined to the house. After the first few washings, 
the child undergoes a process called towa, consisting of a 
certain amount of gentle massage and manipulation of its 
limbs. The muscles are gently kneaded with the bare hand, 
previously warmed at a fire, and the joints are fiexed and 
extended ; the head is stroked from before backwards, with 
one hand, both laterally and over the vertex, while the occiput 
rests in the hollow of the other. 

The child is put to the breast soon after birth. 

Retained placenta is stated to occur, but to be infrequent ; 
nothing is done, and the patient invariably dies. 


A woman is confined to the house for some time after 
childbirth, her seclusion is not however absolute since she 

86 The Koita 

goes into the sea to dispose of the afterbirth. It is not clear 
for how long she is secluded, but my informants agreed that 
it was longer after the first than after subsequent births. 
Perhaps it would not be far from the mark to suggest a period 
of about three weeks for a first child and ten to fourteen days 
for subsequent children. The young mother is washed daily 
by her mother with hot water, and the vulva is cleaned over 
one of the large shallow open pots called nau. Green banana 
leaves, which however can have hardly any absorbing power, 
are worn under the petticoat to retain the lochia. During 
the puerperium, the young mother's sister-in-law, i.e. her 
husband's sister, looks after the husband, fetching water and 
food from the garden, and cooking for him. She also cooks 
for his wife, in different vessels but at the same fire, and she 
continues to do so until the young mother leaves the house, 
which she does with entire lack of ceremony. Children are 
suckled regularly for twelve months or more, after this they 
may be given the breast occasionally for another year. A 
little roasted ripe banana is given to a child as early as four to 
six weeks after birth, and soon after this it is given small quan- 
tities of other vegetable food and well cooked small fish. Pig 
or kangaroo flesh is not given until the child can toddle about 
by itself. During her puerperium, a woman must avoid the 
food forbidden to her during pregnancy. Large fish, pig and 
kangaroo are also forbidden, were she to eat these her child 
would probably become seriously ill. 

While his wife is secluded in the house, the child's father 
must abstain from chewing betel, and observe the same food 
taboos as his wife, under penalty of his child becoming 
seriously ill. He does not avoid his newly born child, nor 
stay away from the house, in fact he lives in the house and 
may see the child directly it is born. 

Cohabitation should not be resumed until the child can 
toddle about, if it is resumed before then the child will 
weaken, sicken and perhaps die. 


Twins excite no surprise or disgust, and are well treated. 
It is well known that the tendency to bear twins is hereditary, 
and it is recognised that twin births may occur in families that 
have not produced twins for one or even two generations. 



Each section of the Koita has its own land, that portion 
on which it is customary to make gardens being divided 
among its constituent iduhu. Each man has his share in the 
iduhu garden land, which descends to his children. When a 
man desires, for any reason, to take up more garden land, he 
discusses the matter with his clan chief {iduhu roki), who, after 
the usual discussion with the elders of the iduhu, assigns him 
an adequate amount. When this land is to be cleared, the 
whole iduhu turn out and help in the work. Land was never 
sold in the old days, and when heirs to any given area failed, 
it reverted to the iduhu. Garden making on another man's 
land is frequent, his permission being first obtained, and a 
portion of the crop being given him in return. Gardens may 
be made on another man's land for any length of time without 
alienating the land from its rightful owner and his heirs, but if 
a man overstep his boundaries, and plant on another man's 
ground without permission, he is told to remove his yams and 
bananas or pay for the privilege he has taken. 

Except in gardens trespass seems to be an unknown 
offence ; any one may cross any uncultivated land belonging 
to his own or any other tribe with which there is peace, and 
even among gardens there are well defined tracks along which 
there is always a right of way. 

Each section resents any individual of another section 
hunting on its land, and grass burning by another section, 
even when accidental, might in the old days have led to 
fighting. It is, however, usual for sections to join for the big 
hunts that take place when the grass is burnt, and sometimes 
even Koiari and Koita will unite for this purpose. 

88 The Koita 


It is said that no woman really owns land, though a 
daughter is allowed the use of a fair share of her father's, 
which she cultivates, and on which her children, with the 
permission of her kinsmen, commonly make gardens. Even 
an orphan brought up by her mother's relatives, would, on her 
marriage, have the right to cultivate and keep the produce of 
a portion of her father's land. Land is never given as a 
dowry or paid as a portion of an adultery price. 

The custom applying to widows in relation to land is 
considered on page 90. 


A man's most valued possessions in these days are his pig 
and dog, his ornaments and dancing plumes, and in the days 
before the white man's coming, his weapons, adze and canoe 
were doubtless almost equally valuable. The presence of the 
store at Port Moresby, in the most accessible part of the 
Koita country, and the repression of feuds, has completely 
altered these values. Practically every man now has his axe 
and bush knife, often several of both, and the trade necessary 
to pay for a canoe can be speedily and easily earned at the 
white settlement. Even to-day a man will not readily part 
with his drum and fishing nets, doubtless because the intro- 
duction of trade articles has not, to any great extent, diminished 
the amount of labour that must be spent in making these. A 
hint of the former value of a good spear may perhaps be 
obtained from its association with articles of personal adorn- 
ment in the heni ceremony described on page 71. With 
the advent of the store, one article has attained immense 
popularity. This is a camphor wood box, with the lock so 
arranged as to ring a bell when the key is turned. It is the 
ambition of every man to possess one of these, its key is often 
worn round the neck as a pendant, and it is certain that old 
keys may be worn for ' swagger ' by youths who have never 
owned a box, and by men who have traded or gambled away 
the box they once possessed. 

Besides dancing plumes, pigs and dogs, the following 
native ornaments appear to have kept their old value, or much 

Inheritance 89 

of it. The Motu names by which they are commonly spoken 
of are given. 

Tola, armshells made from the shell of Conus mille- 

Mairi, the crescent shaped * mother of pearl ' ornament 
made from the shell of Meleagrina margaritifera. 

Doa, the chest ornament, worn as a pendant from the 
neck, consisting of the tusk of a boar pig which has grown in 
a spiral or almost a circle. 

Tautau, strings of the ground down shells of Nassa 
callospira often worn as necklaces. 

Dodomay a necklace of dogs' teeth. 


The perineal bandage, or petticoat, which belonged to, 
and had been worn by, a dead man or woman was burnt 
some months after his or her death during the robumomomo 
ceremony of the ita feast\ Certain of a man's relatives, his 
nana and roro, take his ornaments, canoes, spears and the rest 
of his personal property. His widow receives none of his 
personalty, but if he has young children, a certain amount is 
kept for, and given to them later. 

A division of the property which passes to the nana and 
roro of the dead man according to tribal customs is made by 
the dead man's eldest son, if he be adult, who thus becomes 
his father's executor, but if he be too young, one of the dead 
man's brothers acts in that capacity, failing both these relatives, 
a cousin divides the property. 


I have considered a man's house as real property, for 
although among the Koita it is commonly allowed to rot, 
the ground on which it stands descends rigidly in the male 
line. If a man die without wife, brothers, sisters or children, 
his house is allowed to rot, and later another house will be 
built on its site. If he leave no widow or children to occupy 
his house, his brother or sister may do so if they care to, but 
1 gathered that this was very rarely done, and no one else 
could occupy the house. 

1 Cf. chapter xiv. 

go The Koita 

A widow, whether childless or not, may either continue 
to live in her dead husband's house, or return to her family, 
as she prefers. If she be childless, and elects to return to 
her own family, the use of her husband's land immediately 
reverts to his nana and roro, as it does at her death or 
remarriage if she elects to stay in his house till then. If she 
has children and leaves her husband's house the boards 
forming the floor are divided between the dead man's nana, 
rorOy raimu, children and herself. These boards are often 
4 metres long by one broad and 25 to 50 mm. thick, and 
in the old days of stone tools, took a long time to make and 
were really valuable on account of the labour expended on 
them. For this reason they were preserved when the rest of 
the house was allowed to rot. 

A dead man's coconut trees are divided among his 
brothers, sisters and children, but of his children boys are 
said to get more than girls. His land is divided among his 
children, but strictly speaking his daughters have only a life 
interest in their portion, though as already mentioned this is 
commonly extended to their children, the latter being allowed 
to make gardens on their mother's land, on the clear under- 
standing that the land does not belong to them but to their 
mother's kinsmen. If a man die childless, his land and 
coconuts go to his brothers, sisters and raimu. 

The site on which a man's house stands descends to his 
sons, or failing these to his nearest male kinsman. Strictly 
speaking, a man's hereditary house site is the only place 
on which he may build a house, although as the site is 
generally bigger than the house, a married man will often 
build a house immediately behind his father's, if there be 
room on the hereditary house site. 

The following instances of the disposal of property after 
the death of particular persons illustrate the actual working of 
the rules given above. 

When Maiago died, no one moved into his house which, 
since he has no son, will be allowed to rot. It was stated 
that later on, his half brother Mabata Maiago would build his 
house on the site at present occupied by that of the dead 
man. It was said that even if Mabata Maiago were adolescent 
or fully grown, his dead brother's house would be allowed to 
rot, but this was apparently not an invariable rule. 

1 he dead man's coconut trees will be divided between 

Inheritance gi 

his sisters and his children ; his land, i.e. the right to cultivate 
it will go to his daughters. His half-brother Mabata Maiago, 
will get his dog, while a particularly fine armshell will go to 
his nana, Bogi Goada, who shaved his dead body. His 
dugong net will go to his raimu, Koikoi Goada of Tanobada, 
while other articles of personal property such as his knife, his 
dog tooth necklace and his strings of tautau will be divided 
among his nana and roro of both sexes \ 

Another instance of disposal of property that may be cited 
is the distribution that occurred when Ovaketa, uncle to 
Ahuia Ova died. 

Rabura Kogi, son of Ovaketa, took possession of the latter's 
house ; it was stated that had Ovaketa been childless his 
brother might have done so. One of the dead man's wives, 
Keranoboka, continued to live in the house with her son 
Rabura Kogi. Diara Ova, his other wife, would also have 
stayed in the house had she not run away sometime before 
her husband's death. Harigeta and Getahari, the dead man's 
brothers, were already dead when Ovaketa died, hence 
Rabura Kogi, after distributing the customary armshells and 
other articles of adornment among his father's nana and roro, 
was practically residuary legatee. Ahuia Ova received 
nothing because his mother, Diara Ova, had run away, and 
he had been adopted by her brother Taubada. Had his 
mother not run away from Ovaketa, he would have lived 
in the latter's house with Rabura Kogi and later, when he 
married and built a house of his own, he would have taken 
his share of the valuables inherited by Ovaketa. Had 
Harigeta and Getahari not predeceased their brother Ovaketa, 
Rabura Kogi would have given each of them a certain 
customary share, generally one or more of the following 
articles, tola, doa, a pig or a dog. 

^ This account was written shortly after Maiago died and before his property 
was distributed. It is quite unusual for a Koita to possess a dugong net. 



The trade and trading methods of the Kolta are practically 
the same as those of the Motu, with whom they are so closely 
associated in every way. For this reason, and because many 
Koita take part in it, Captain Barton's account of the hiri, 
the annual Motu trading expedition to the Papuan Gulf, is 
given immediately after the present chapter on the ordinary 
local trade of the Koita. 

Formerly, certain rather unimportant markets, held at 
irregular intervals, were attended by Koita and Koiari, but 
it was stated that these ceased before the advent of the white 
man. At the present time (and probably for some consider- 
able time past) by far the greater part of the Koita trade 
has been water-borne by the inhabitants of the coastal villages, 
from Toaripi in the Papuan Gulf to Aroma in the east. The 
bulk of this trade is done with the communities inhabiting the 
strip of coast some 90 miles long, stretching from Lealea to 
Hula. The safety of life and property in the coastal region 
of the Central District, as well as the presence of a store 
at Port Moresby situated in the midst of the eastern Koita, 
has materially increased the amount of coastal trade, while 
the proximity of Poreporena, the largest Koita-Motu- village 
system, to the white settlement at Port Moresby has caused 
these people to pay less attention to their gardens than 
formerly, and to become more and more a trading community 
dependent on imported food. More often than not such food is 
paid for in trade goods bought for cash at the Port Moresby 
store. The extent to which food is imported, and the readi- 
ness with which it is disposed of, is shown by the fact that it 
pays white traders to spend the four or ^v^ weeks necessary 
to run up the Papuan Gulf, load with sago and beat back 
against the S.E. monsoon for the sake of the profit to be 

Trade ^3 

obtained by selling the sago for cash in the Port Moresby 

In reading the following notes it must be borne in mind 
that at the present day trade goods may be substituted to 
a considerable extent for the older articles of native exchange 
among the eastern Koita. Kapakapa, Tupuselei and Gaile 
bring bananas, taitu (a kind of yam), and a limited number of 
toia (armshells), obtaining pigs, feathers, doa (spiral boar 
tusks) and ageva (shell discs used as beads) in exchange. 
Hula and Aroma bring coconuts and petticoats, and to a 
limited extent toia and shell beads, both of which come to 
them from Mailu or even further east, while Hula also brings 
the shell ornament called tautau^, and smoked fish. Hula 
folk also fish on the reefs near Port Moresby, usually using 
methods differing from those practised by Koita and Motu 
(e.g. the seine net) and sell their catch in the neighbouring 
villages. From the Motu and Koita, the Hula take pots and 
sago. Kerepunu sends petticoats and toia in exchange for 
pots. Within the last few years, a trade in canoes with Hula 
has sprung up, but formerly these came from west of Port 
Moresby. About a pound's worth of trade is the price now 
given for an average dug-out Hula canoe fitted with an out- 
rigger but without sails, spars or ropes. 

Ageva are only made at two villages within the Koita- 
Motu country, viz. at Tatana and Vabukori, whence they are 
traded to other Koita and Motu villages, the inhabitants of 
which act as distributors. 

Toaripi and Lese bring sago, areca nut, betel pepper, 
coconuts and a few bananas. Bows and arrows are also 
traded, and are now used for shooting fish. Waima (Maiva) 
sends coconuts, sugar cane, bananas, sago and feathers. 
These are the only villages west of the Koita- Motu area with 
which a more or less constant trade is carried on, but trading 
canoes laden with coconuts, sago, and areca nuts from as far 
up the Papuan Gulf as Wame/ ^ are occasionally to be seen at Wc>Sy^a 
Port Moresby. Toia, tautau and 7nairi are the ornaments 
which the Gulf and Waima traders receive in exchange. The 
western sections of the Koita, and the Motu with whom they 
are associated, bring coconuts and bananas to the eastern 
moiety of the Koita. Lealea, Boiera and Porebada are 
especially prominent exporting villages. Manumanu brings 

1 Cf. p. 89. 


The Koita 

vegetable food, including govera (the fruit of a 'kind of 
mangrove'), petticoats made of split sago leaf, crabs and 
dug-out canoes, receiving in exchange toia, tautau and mairi. 

A really good canoe without sails or spars, would, in the 
old days, have been worth three or even four tola, but at the 
present time, canoes are more usually paid for either wholly 
or partially in money or store-trade. A good dug-out recently 
changed hands for two tola, ten shillings and a mosquito net, 
while Captain Barton informs me, that Ahuia paid two toia^ 
one axe, one mosquito net, one blanket, three strings of 
tautau, and eight shillings in cash, for a rather unusually 
fine canoe. 

Feathers are obtained by the western Koita from Nara 
and Kabadi, and are traded for shell ornaments with the Motu 
and eastern Koita. 


Markets, called by the Koita wotogo (M. utuka) are not 
held at the present day and never seem to have played any 
important part in the Koita economy. Formerly a market 
used to be held at a place called Yarokasaka, near the junction 
of the Goldie and Laloki rivers. The participants were the 
Gaseri (a Koiari people), and certain Koita villages. The 
Gaseri brought to the Koita bananas, yams, taro and wallaby 
flesh in exchange for fish and salt\ This market is said to 
have been held at very irregular intervals, and to have fallen 
into desuetude before the advent of the white man. One 
or other party would send a message, that in two or three 
days' they would come to Yarokasaka prepared to trade. 
Spears were always taken and carried at the market, where 
trouble often ensued and it was not uncommon for a man to 
be killed. In such circumstances the aggrieved tribe would 
seek revenge either immediately, or at a subsequent market. 
In the event of trouble being anticipated, the tribe who had 
killed a man would send a messenger to the other tribe, taking 
care that their messenger was in no way connected with the 

' My informants, Taubada and the other old men of Hohodai village, repeatedly 
asserted that the Koita made salt in the old days, long before the coming of the 
white man. The process was stated to have been to collect salt water in shallow 
pots and fragments of the larger pots called hodu, and allow it to evaporate in the 



family against whom there was a blood debt. Such a 
messenger would go straight to the house of one of the clan 
chiefs of the village he was visiting, and having stated the 
reason for his coming would be safe. 

Credit was given freely in almost all transactions, and was 
seldom abused. To enforce certain payments special methods 
might be employed. Thus in connection with tahutahu, the 
borrowing of pigs for the tabu feast (cf. chapter xii), if the lender 
thought the borrower was making no effort to pay him back, 
or if he required a pig in a hurry, he would sleep a night 
in the borrower's house. Nothing would be said about the 
pig, but after this the borrower would strenuously endeavour 
to pay his debt, even should this entail borrowing from some- 
one else. Interest (usury) does not exist. 



By F. R. Barton. 

Every year, at the end of September, or the beginning of 
October, the season of the south-east trade wind being then 
near its close, a fleet of large sailing canoes leaves Port 
Moresby and the neighbouring villages of the Motu tribe on 
a voyage to the deltas of the rivers of the Papuan Gulf. The 
canoes are laden with earthenware pots of various shapes 
and sizes which are carefully packed for the voyage in dry 
banana leaves. In addition to these, certain other articles 
highly valued as ornaments (and latterly foreign made articles 
of utility) are also taken for barter. The canoes return during 
the north-west monsoon after an absence of about three 
months, laden with sago which the voyagers have obtained in 
exchange for their pots and other articles. 

The origin of these western trading expeditions, called by 
the Motu kiri, is veiled in obscurity. Everything goes to 
prove that the custom has been in existence for many 
generations. The fact that the Motu and the various Gulf 
tribes visited by them make use of a common trading dialect 
which is in some measure distinct from the very widely 
divergent languages of either, justifies the conclusion that 
the custom has existed for a very considerable period. The 
Motu have the following legend which purports to give the 
origin of the custom. 

* [Although the annual pot trading expedition to the Papuan Gulf is a Motu 
custom, so many Koita participate in it that it now forms a part of the social life of 
the Koita of Port Moresby and the neighbouring villages.] 

Origin of the Hiri 97 


A very long time ago there lived at the Motu village 
of Boera a man named Edai Siabo. One day he sailed with 
some other men in a canoe to the islands of Bava and Idiha 
(small coral islands on the barrier reef off Boera) to catch 
turtle. They were unsuccessful, and at night the other men 
went to sleep on the island, whilst Edai Siabo, who was 
varo biaguna (' master ' of the turtle net) slept alone in the 
canoe. During the night a being named Edai, of the kind 
called dirava, arose from the water, seizing hold of him and 
carrying him under water to the cave among the rocks which 
was his abode. The dirava drew Edai Siabo head-foremost 
into the cave so that he lay prone with his feet projecting 
from the entrance, and he then informed him that he had 
brought him there to tell him about lakatoi^ (composite trading 
canoes). 'Do not be afraid,' he said; ^ as soon as I have 
told you all about lakatoi, you can go back to your canoe.' 
The dirava went on to explain how these vessels should be 
made, and how, if he and his fellows went to the west in a 
lakatoi, they would be able to obtain plenty of sago to tide 
them over the season of scarcity. At daylight next morning 
the men who had slept ashore swam out to the canoe, and 
when they saw that Edai Siabo was gone they wept. While 
they were talking, and weeping, and wondering what had 
become of him, one of them looked over the side and saw 
their comrade's feet and called to the others to come and see. 
So they all dived into the sea and caught hold of his feet, and 
tried to haul him out of the cave, but the dirava held the 
shoulders of Edai Siabo, and the men could not move him, 
and they had to rise to the surface again to take breath. 
Again and again they dived down but were unable to pull 
him out for the dirava still held fast to Edai Siabo because he 
had not finished telling him about lakatoi. At last, when all 
had been told he allowed the men to haul Edai Siabo out of 
the cave to the surface of the sea, and they placed him in the 
canoe. He was apparently dead and the men wept sorely 

1 Lakatoi is derived from laka and toi. Laka is the Motu form of the word 
{wa, waka, waga etc.) signifying canoe. These words properly mean a canoe with 
the sides heightened by planks, a mere dug-out has other names (Motu vanagi). 
Toi is the Motu form of tolu the numeral ' three.' For part of this information I 
am indebted to Mr S. H. Ray, 

S. N. G. 7 


g8 The Koita 

over him, but after a while he opened his eyes and revived. 
His companions asked him what he had been doing, and 
he told them that he had seen and heard many strange things. 
When the men asked him what these things were, he told 
them that the dirava Edai had taken him into his rock-cave 
and instructed him as to the manner of making a lakatoi, 
and about the hiri (the trading voyage on which the lakatoi 
must sail). The men Inquired the meaning of these words, 
and Edai Siabo promised that he would repeat all that 
the dirava Edai had said to him when they had returned 
to Boera. So they made sail for that place. There Edai 
Siabo built a model of a lakatoi according to all that the 
spirit had told him, and when he put it upon the sea it sailed 
along quickly, and all the assembled people exclaimed : * Inai! 
(behold !) who taught you to make such a thing ? ' and he told 
them that the dirava Edai had taught him thus to make a big 
vessel, and to sail In It to the west for sago. Then he took 
the little lakatoi to his house, and the men of the village 
went there to examine It and ask questions. Edai Siabo 
explained to them how to lash the canoes together, and how 
to step the mast, and how to make the sail, and so forth. 
So the people went away and built a lakatoi, and they called 
it Oalabada. A Koita — a brother-in-law of Edai Siabo — 
tried to dissuade him from going to the west, telling him that 
in his garden there were plenty of bananas, and in his house 
good store of yams, so that he would not want, but Edai 
Siabo remained stubborn. When the lakatoi was finished it 
was loaded with earthenware pots, and as soon as all the pots 
had been stowed aboard the people wanted to dance on the 
lakatoi, and they called for their drums ; but Edai Siabo 
forbade them to beat drums on the vessel. He told them 
that instead of drums they must use sede (a percussion 
instrument made of bamboo), and he explained to them how 
these should be made. So the men went into the jungle, and 
cut bamboos and made sede, and when they beat them they 
were delighted with the sound given forth. After that they 
went aboard again, and poled the lakatoi xhrow^ the shallow^ 
water, intoning meanwhile the following words : 

^ Dokaimu Oalabada dokaimu, Ido-Ido, Ido-ido-ido-ido^^ 

* The Motu people, like other Papuasian tribes, have no knowledge of the 
meaning of many old songs which they know by heart. In transcribing them it is! 
difficult to know where the words begin and end. On examination it is possible to] 

Origin of the Hiri 99 

and all the while they kept beating the sede. Presently they 
asked what song they should sing, and Edai Siabo then told 
them the words and tune of the lakatoi ehona (song) as the 
dirava Edai had taught him, and the words of it were these : 

' Oalabada Oviria nanaia 
Ario Visiu O Veri Auko 
Bogebada Eraroia Nanaia 

Irope Umanai Ela Dauko^ 

(and many other verses). 

When the song was ended those who were not going 
on the hiri went ashore, and the others hoisted the sail and 
left. They sailed for many days into the west until they 
came to a large village on the banks of a river, and there 
they stopped. The people received them with great joy 
inasmuch as they never before had pots in which to boil their 
sago. The travellers remained there until all the pots had 
been bartered for sago and then the lakatoi being loaded they 
set sail for home. 

Now Edai Siabo was married to a woman named Oiooio, 
and when he sailed away to the west, he told her that after 
fifty days were past, her daughter-in-law was to climb every 
day to the summit of the hill called Taubarau, to look out 
for the lakatoi returning. Day after day she returned to 
Oiooio saying she could see nothing. The wives of the men 
who had gone, believing that their husbands would never 
come back, took other husbands, but Oiooio remained faithful, 
in the sure belief that her husband would return, till one 
morning her daughter-in-law said she had seen something near 
Varivari islets, but she could not be sure that it was not a 
piece of floating driftwood. Oiooio told her to hurry back 
and look again. As it came nearer and grew larger she saw 
it was indeed the lakatoi and ran down to tell the good news. 
•Oiooio swept the house, washed herself, put oil upon her 
body and in her richest ornaments paddled off to the lakatoi 
when it rounded the point to the village. There she told 
those aboard that their wives had been faithless, and that she 
and her daughter-in-law had alone been obedient to the 
commands imposed on them by Edai Siabo before leaving. 
She took some sago from the lakatoi and returned to her 

trace the meaning of a word here and there. ' Dokaimu' signifies the propelling 
of a lakatoi by poling. ' Oalabada' is of course the name of the vessel. I cannot 
find any meaning for the final re-duplicated word. 


loo The Koita 

house, and after Edai Siabo had washed in the sea, he and 
those with him went ashore. The men were greatly grieved 
to find that Oiooio had spoken the truth about their wives, 
for many of them were big with child by other men. Then 
Edai Siabo told all the people that the words of the dirava 
were all true, and he admonished the faithless women and 
the men who had taken them as their wives. The women 
were very ashamed of themselves, and some of them were 
taken back by their husbands. 

Since that time the lakatoi have gone every year to the 
west, and there has consequently been food in plenty during 
the season of scarcity. 


During the early part of the S.E. season, that is in 
April or May, certain of the leading men in the different 
villages will each secretly make up his mind to organize the 
equipment of a lakatoi to go west in the following autumn. 
Such a man communicates his intention to his wife, and 
about the same time he ceases to cohabit. This man is 
known as the baditauna, the correct translation of which is 
probably * the man who originates ' or ' the causing man.' 
Soon after he has formed his resolution he speaks to another 
man of the village, who need not necessarily belong to his 
iduhu, and if the latter agrees it is arranged that he shall go 
as doritauna (a satisfactory translation of this term is not 
deducible ; it may mean 'top man'). He, too, thenceforth 
ceases to cohabit. These two men may therefore be termed : 
' the man at the root,' and ' the man at the top.' 

Upon a certain pre-arranged day the baditauna descends j 
from his house and sits upon the ground in front of it, 
A small boy, his son or nephew \ then hands to him a baubaiA 
(bamboo pipe), tobacco, and a leaf in which to roll the! 
tobacco before placing it in the pipe. He is presently joined] 
by the doritauna and the pair smoke together. After a while, 
two men who have arranged to go as ' mast-captains,' and 
two as 'sail-captains,' saunter up to the pair, and the one 
mast-captain and the one sail-captain who have elected to go 
under the baditauna sit beside him, and the other two men sit 

^ [Almost certainly his sister's son, cf. p. 67.] 

The Hiri loi 

by the doritauna. The baubau is passed round and they all 
smoke and talk. Then the respective crews of the two chief 
men gather at the spot, and allot themselves in the same 
manner. Nominally it would seem that these men have not 
been previously selected, but apparently it is always by pre- 
arrangement that they come forward. The whole party is 
therefore divided into two separate commands, and it does 
not appear that the one takes actual priority of the other. 
From this time forth until the S.E. season has passed its 
climax, the ' mast-captains ' and ' sail-captains ' and the crews 
follow their usual avocations. 

About the month of August the baditauna and doritauna 
call upon those who have agreed to go as crew to begin the 
demademay i.e. the overhauling and caulking of the large dug- 
outs known as asi, of which the lakatoi is composed \ The 
baditauna and doritauna now become especially helaga"^. Hus- 
band and wife keep apart as much as possible. They sleep 
in the same house but on opposite sides of it. Should the 
husband be on the house platform, his wife cannot leave 
the house, as there is commonly but one mode of entrance 
and exit to the house. In speaking of his wife he calls her 
haniulato (maiden), and the wife speaking of her husband 
calls him tauhau (youth). They have no direct conversation 
or dealings with each other. If he wishes to communicate 
with her he does so through a third person, who is usually a 
relative of one of them. Both refrain from washing them- 
selves, and he from combing his hair. The wife's position 
indeed becomes very much like that of a widow. 

The demadefna operation being completed, it is followed 
by that known as lailai. This consists of floating the caulked 
asi, and lashing them together, and constructing the platform 
or deck. The baditauna and doritauna now each choose their 
udiha. The udiha is generally the man's son or raimu, and 
should properly be a boy who has not reached puberty I In 
the event of a man being childless he can appoint a full- 
grown man to be his udiha, the latter, however, is subject 

^ [A number of asi distinguished from ordinary dug-outs {vanagi) by their 
greater size and the ' beaked ' appearance of their ends are seen floating in the 
water between the mainland and Elevara in the frontispiece.] 

2 [This word conveys something of the idea of ' sacred,' ' set apart,' ' charged 
with virtue.'] 

3 If the tidiha is a boy who has not arrived at puberty, this will be the first 
occasion on which he has worn a sihi. 

#02 The Koifa 

to the same restrictions as an ordinary udika. These forth- 
with become helaga, and are carried by four men to a canoe, 
and paddled out to the lakatoi, great care being taken to 
prevent the feet of the udika coming in contact with salt 
water. Each carries a new mat and his master's vaina 
(netted bag); the latter containing a diniga (bone fork), 
bedi (coconut shell spoon), tobacco, etc. The udika is dressed 
in a new sihi (perineal band). Having been put on board 
the lakatoi, he spreads the mat beneath a shelter constructed 
amidship, and hangs the vaina above it. The mats of the 
daditauna and doritauna are spread end to end, and invariably 
on the darima (outrigger) side of the lakatoi^. Thenceforth 
the baditauna and doritauna and their two udika sleep aboard 
the lakatoi, the latter never leaving it, except for one day 
when the pots are being stowed aboard. Food is cooked at 
the usual times by their wives, or sisters-in-law, in a particular 
form of pot called keikei, and when ready it is taken out 
to the lakatoi by a boy and handed to the udika. Neither 
the woman who cooks the food nor the eaters thereof may 
touch it with their fingers ; it must always be handled or 
conveyed to the mouth by a diniga. The udika eats first, 
and when he has satisfied himself he passes the kibo, the pot 
in which the food is served, to his baditauna or doritauna as 
the case may be, who then eats his portion. Should any food 
remain over, it may not be eaten by any person save the 
udika and the baditauna or doritauna. 

Certain foods are taboo to these men and boys, and the 
udiha may not drink water, but only coconut milk. The 
forbidden foods are rabia (sago), buatau (areca nut), oroa 
(a plantain), tuara (another plantain), batakaru, malao, lebeta 
(three kinds of yam), and the following fish : paroparo, balala, 
manii, daedae, tabare, taguma, barubaru (distinct from paro- 
paro), noku, nape, managi, bebe. 

When the asi have been lashed together to form the 
lakatoi a ceremony of charming takes place at night. A 
lakatoi sorcerer burns a root taken from a certain wild plant 
together with bits of cassowary claw and garfish snout in an 
ataga (potsherd)'. With the smoke which rises therefrom he 

The lakatoi being a raft has no outrigger, but the two sides are always known 
as darima and eno-eno^ as in an ordinary canoe with an outrigger. 

' [Cassowary claw and garfish snout are used because the animals from which 
they are derived move quickly, cf. chapter XV.] 

The Hiri 103 

fumigates the gunwale of that asi upon which the mats of the 
doritauna and baditauna are spread. This process is said to 
bring good luck and to give the lakatoi superior sailing powers. 
In addition — to doubly ensure this result — the sorcerer ties 
up parcels of the green leaves from the same wild plant, inside 
dry banana leaves, and fixes them inside the square holes in 
the gunwales of the asi, through which the lashings of the 
deck cross beams pass. 

The next operation is the stepping of the masts. These 
are made from the trunks of a kind of tree growing near 
high- water mark in Port Moresby harbour : they are ap- 
parently a kind of mangrove, without aerial roots, and with 
small leaves. The tops of the masts have a natural crook 
which takes the place of a block, the halyards passing over 
and being guided by the crook. The tree of which the mast 
is made is taken out with the larger roots attached, and these 
are cut off to a convenient length and strongly lashed to the 
deck cross beams, thus giving the required stability. 

Meanwhile the 'crabclaw' shaped sails are made in the 
village by the 'sail captains.' They are made of plaited mats 
sewn together, and attached on either side to long tapering 
mangrove poles. While under construction the sails are 
carefully measured to ensure that the two horns of each are of 
an equal length. 

A lakatoi is invariably moored or anchored from the end 
of the vessel belonging to the doritauna. The anchor is a 
large stone encased in a network of heavy lashings, and the 
cable is composed of lengths of rattan knotted together. 
Anchors are regarded as being in the highest degree helaga. 
Should it be found necessary to anchor during the voyage, 
owing to unfavourable wind or other causes, the cable is 
watched continually by three men, one sitting on either 
side of it, and one in the centre with his hands on the cable. 
These men should be varavara (relations by blood or iduhu) 
of the doritauna. The anchor being helaga nobody is allowed 
to step across the cable when the anchor is down. 

The lakatoi are named according to the iduhu to which 
the baditauna and doritauna thereof belong — each iduhu 
having its own assigned lakatoi name. There are but three 
lakatoi names, viz. Bogebada, Oalabada and Kevaubada, 
except in the case of the village of Vabukori which does not 

I04 The Koita 

make use of the above names and uses instead the following, 
Vaigabada, Moubada and Buabada\ 

If the baditaicna and doritauna belong to iduhu having 
different lakatoi names, half the vessel is called by the one 
name, and the other half by the other name. A lakatoi 
recently went to the Namau district of which the baditauna 
was Guba Oala of the Tubumaga iduhu, while the doritauna 
named Sere Maku belonged to the Kwaradubuna iduhu ; 
the former's half of the vessel was called Oalabada, the 
latter's half Bogebada. The lakatoi are decorated with the 
specific iduhu toana (clan badges) called pepe belonging to 
the iduhu of their captains. These pepe, one of which is 
shown in figure 8, are of large size ; the leaf strips of the 
example figured being several feet long. Pepe are only used 
on the hiri though after the expedition is over the baditauna 
and doritauna remove them from the lakatoi and hang them 
from their ridge poles in front of their houses. 

An ornament (figure 9) consisting of a framework of 
cane on which are mounted the shells of the large white 
cowrie {Ovulum ovum) fits over the top of each mast. 

Plate XII represents a lakatoi in Port Moresby Harbour 
showing Elevara in the background ; the ends have not yet 
been roofed in. 

All being now ready competitive trial sailings are made 
by the several Port Moresby lakatoi, backwards and forwards 
across the harbour, the air resounding with the metallic clink 
of the sede being beaten aboard, and the voices of those 
singing. During these short runs to and fro, bevies of young 
girls collect on the projecting platform (called maramara) of 
that end of the vessel which for the time being is the bow- 
end, and dance there with great vigour, the springy nature of 
the platform adding largely to their lively movements. The 
after-end platform is occupied by the steersmen, of whom 
there are five or six, wielding heavy steering oars. The 
vessel does not go about in the usual manner but merely 
reverses ends, and then the steersmen and the girls change 
places. The baditauna and doritauna do not take part in 
this celebration, nor do the "sail captains" who remain ashore 

* Bogebada means fish-hawk. Boge is 'night' in nearly all dialects but it also 
means reef-heron. Oalabada is surely ualabada — big crocodile. Oala is a common 
surname in Motu. Kevaubada is 'big rainbow.' The words in several dialects for 
rainbow and lightning are the same, or nearly the same ; in Motu lightning is 

The Hiri 


Fig. 8. 
Lakatoi ornament, pepe. 

Fig. 9. 
Lakatoi mast ornament of cowrie shells. 

io6 The Koita 

in their houses. The lakatoi for the time being are manned 
by the young men belonging to the iduhu which has con- 
structed each lakatoi, but the **mast captains" also take part 
in the festival. 

Everything having been found satisfactory, the vessels 
are taken back to their moorings, and they are shortly after- 
wards loaded with their cargoes of pots. Those which are 
the property of the baditauna and doritauna are placed in 
the kalaga, a square cradle fixed to the deck amidship ; the 
rest are packed carefully in dry banana leaves in the shelters 
called ru7naruma at each end of the lakatoi, and inside 
the asV-, 

As the lakatoi is poled out of harbour, care is taken that 
the end which belongs to the baditauna becomes the bow, 
and this end remains the bow until the Gulf is reached. On 
the return journey the end belonging to the doritauna becomes 
the bow, and remains so for the whole voyage unless a head 
breeze springs up, when the opposite extremity becomes the 
forward end of the lakatoi. Although lakatoi may anchor at 
night, if there is no chance of trouble with the people off 
whose coast they are, yet with a perfectly favourable breeze 
they usually sail all night. 

It is difficult to ascertain by questioning, to what extent 
the baditauna and doritauna exercise the duties of com- 
manders during the voyage. It is probable that they interfere 
scarcely at all with the ordinary navigation of the vessel, but 
that in positions of difficulty they take charge and give their 
orders, which are obeyed. The two udiha are confined to 
their shelter beside the kalaga, and only leave it to obey 
nature's behests. Their two masters move about the vessel 
as it pleases them. Only they and the udiha have access 
to the shelter alongside the kalaga, with the exception of two 
cooks who have, one each, been chosen for the voyage by the 
baditauna and doritauna. Cooks, to be orthodox, must be 
unmarried youths, and the cooking operations are conducted 
with the same restrictions in handling the food as applied to 
the women who cooked the food before departure. 

Importance is attached to the necessity for the vaina hung 
above the udiha being free from motion. If the vessel rocks 

* When the destination of the lakatoi is Elema, the nearer portion of the Gulf 
district, the kalaga is not used : it is only constructed when the vessel is to proceed 
to Namau, the further portion of that district. 




The Hiri 107 

and sets the vaina swinging, they are steadied by guy strings. 
During the voyage the same articles of food are taboo to the 
' captains ' as before starting, but no food taboos are imposed 
upon the crew. 

The actual conduct of the hiri will be best understood by 
the following short account of the voyage of the lakatoi 
Kevaubada going to Kaimare in 1906. 

The first night from home the lakatoi anchored at 
Meabada, the crew collected firewood and erected piuy 
i.e. rails at either end of the craft, used as fulcra by the man 
or men using the big steering oars. The lakatoi left next 
morning at daylight and went outside Yule Island. Passing 
Yule Island the older men put bananas and yams at the foot 
of either mast ; this food is cooked and eaten on the same 
day by the crew, but the baditauna, doritauna and their udiha 
do not partake thereof This operation is known as irutahuna 
hana^noa, irutahuna being the name of the space between the 
masts. The lakatoi was off Bailala by the evening and the 
next morning sighted Kaimare. The lakatoi entered the 
creek through its westerly opening without awaiting per- 
mission and was accompanied up the creek by a large escort 
of Kaimare canoes. The lakatoi anchored between the 
Kaimare villages. 

[In the old days a ceremony took place near Hall Sound, 
but whether it is ever performed at the present time is un- 
certain, Chalmers describes the ceremony as follows. ' When 
in front of Hall Sound entrance, the lakatoi was brought right 
up the wind, and the robber-chief took his little nephew by 
the hand and handed him two wisps of cassowary feathers, 
stood in front shaking them with a peculiar motion of the 
body, and turning to the foremast did the same, then came 
aft, and turning to the mainmast went through the same per- 
formance. When breaking her off again all shouted, as if 
driving something away.' 

' Long ago, it seems, the Motuans, to keep an open coast, 
killed many Lolans, who had interfered with one of their 
canoes, and since then the Lolo spirits have been troublesome 
in that one place, detaining the lakatois ; hence the above 
incantation to drive them away. We were successful, and 
got beyond the passage alright, the tide being on the slack at 
the time\' 

^ Pioneering in New Guinea^ p. 29. 

io8 The Koita 

Captain Barton discussed this matter with an old man 
named Keori who accompanied Chalmers on his lakatoi 
voyage. Keori said it was true that in the old days a 
ceremony of the sort described was performed at Hall Sound 
as the result of a command given by Edai when he taught 
Edai Siabo the management of the lakatoi trip, but Keori 
was perfectly definite in his statement that the ceremony had 
no reference to the spirits of the people killed by the Motu. 
It is however true that the Motu did long ago come into 
conflict with the Roro in this neighbourhood.] 


The following account of the customs attending the arrival 
of lakatoi in the west is given as the result of repeated con- 
versations with men who have taken part in the hiri, but 
I have not myself witnessed the arrival of the lakatoi^. 

The arrival of the lakatoi at its destination in the Gulf 
is an occasion for great rejoicing. As soon as the vessel is 
moored in the river opposite the village to which it is bound, 
taboos cease to exist, the baditauna and doritauna and their 
tcdiha leap into the water to wash off the accumulated dirt of 
months. A ceremonial visit is then paid by the head men 
of the Gulf village with their escort to the lakatoi and during 
it each man of the crew selects an individual to be his tarua 
(friend), and they make much of each other. 

Baditauna and doritauna each select two headmen for 
their tarua^ and they adorn these men with the personal 
ornaments they have brought to barter. As soon as this has 
been done — but not before — the crew produce their ornaments, 
and each one proceeds to decorate with them his chosen 
friend. Every article so bestowed has its recognized value, 
and — if accepted — the corresponding value will be given in 
exchange'. The villagers then return to their houses and 
kill a pig or a dog which is thereupon cooked and given 
to the visitors. 

' [Chalmers {^Pioneering in New Guinea, London, 1887, pp. 14-37) has given a 
popular account of the hiri in which he participated in 1883. He also relates in an 
abbreviated form the legend of Edai Siabo, his narrative corresponds to the account 
given by Captain Barton, but his report of the voyage and his arrival in the Gulf is 
so sketchy and incomplete that it has not appeared advisable to make use of the 
incidents he relates.] 

* [The recognized values of barter are given at the end of the present chapter.] 

The Hiri 109 

Next day the pots are unpacked and set in rows upon the 
river-bank, each man keeping his own pots apart from those 
of his fellows. The purchasers then come forward and select 
this or that lot, and the owner of the pots forthwith breaks a 
number of short slivers of stick {kae) as tallies and places 
two in each pot. The seller and the purchaser then pass 
together down the rows of pots, and as each pot is passed 
the two kae are taken out, the purchaser retains one and 
the seller the other. These are in each case tied carefully 
into a little bundle, and each man retains his bundle in his 
keeping until the return payment in sago is made some 
weeks later. This tallying system is only followed in the 
Elema district (extending from Lese to Orokolo) ; not in the 
Namau district. The explanation given by the Motu people 
is that sago grows in the Namau district in such prodigious 
quantities that the inhabitants do not place any definite value 
upon it. The pots are removed meanwhile to the houses of 
the purchasers. Each of those men in the lakatoi who may 
be driven to purchase new asi — either for themselves or on 
commission — will have given a large shell armlet to his tarua. 
Asi are invariably made of a soft-wood tree of great size 
which grows close to rivers in their low alluvial reaches, and 
is known as ilimo. The Gulf natives who have accepted 
payment for asi go into the forest and bring back the girth 
measurements of the required trees, and if these are satis- 
factory, the trees are felled by the Gulf men who float them 
down stream to the lakatoi. There the trees are hauled on 
to the bank of the river and the visitors hollow them out and 
shape them into asi. Fire is not employed in this operation. 
While the lakatoi crew are thus engaged, the bulk of the 
local natives are living in the swamps making the required 
quantity of sago. The new asi having been made, the lakatoi 
is taken to pieces, and reconstructed on a larger plan. Sede 
may not be beaten nor songs sung until the reconstruction is 
complete, but any of the lakatoi songs may then be sung except 
'Lara toa.' When the sago is brought down the parcels in 
which it is packed called gorugoru and turua are put aboard 
first. These have been paid for in toia (shell armlets), inairi 
(pearl shell crescents or, generally in the Gulf the whole shell 
for the people there prefer a rather shorter and deeper 
crescent and so grind down the shell themselves), tautau 
[Nassa necklaces), etc. Next day the smaller parcels called 

1 10 The Koita 

kokohara are put aboard and the quantity of each man's sago 
is carefully checked by the kae. 

During the time that the lakatoi remains alongside the 
Gulf village the tidi/ia lose to a large extent the sacredness 
attaching to their office. They may go ashore and walk 
about with the others, and their diet is not restricted. But 
they still remain in charge of the vaina which are kept always 
aboard the lakatoi, and whenever the udiha go ashore they 
must take off their sihi and leave them hanging beside 
the vaind^, 


On the return journey the baditauna end of the lakatoi 
remains as before the bow-end so long as the wind is 
northerly {77tirigind). If the wind should change to southerly 
{takodiko) the doritauna end of the vessel becomes the bow. 
The baditauna and doritauna and their two udiha resume the 
same footing and observe the same restrictions as obtained 
on the outward voyage. The taboo is not raised until they 
reach either Boera or Borebada — Motu villages near Port 
Moresby and lakatoi returning east of these villages always 
put in at one or the other on the homeward voyage. Here 
the baditauna and doritauna bathe In the sea, and adorn 
themselves with coconut oil, red pigment and the leaves of 
a strongly scented shrub called hebala, and put on their 
newest sihi. The food taboo is removed also, and a final 
meal of sago and grated coconut Is cooked in the keikei. 
Sometimes the keikei and the kibo are broken to pieces after 
this last meal and the bits thrown Into the sea, but I have 
not been able to ascertain whether this is always done. It 
would appear that it is sometimes omitted and in such cases 
no importance seemingly attaches to the pots In question. 

As the time approaches for the fleet of lakatoi to return, 
an Intermittent watch Is kept for them by men of the Koita 
tribe from the summit of a hill called Huhunamo^ and as 
soon as they are sighted the news is passed on to the Port 
Moresby villages. The view from this hill being a wide one, 

^ [Presumably this only applies when the udiha have not reached puberty, 
cf. p. loi, footnote.] 

2 The hill called Huhunamo, which rises at the north-west end of Port Moresby 
harbour (1400 feet), in bygone times had a Koita village on its summit. The 
remnants of its people are now settled at the Motu village of Borebada, where they 
form the Huhunamo iduhu. 

Rehtrn of the Lakatoi in 

the lakatoi are sighted twenty or thirty miles away, and as 
they stay for a day at Boera or Borebada, the people at 
Port Moresby have at least two days' clear warning before 
their arrival. As soon as one is sighted in the offing and 
recognized, the wives of the baditauna and doritauna bathe 
themselves, put on their whole store of ornaments, and go 
out in canoes to meet the returning vessel, together with the 
wives and relatives of the members of the crew. Each 
woman then receives from her husband a kokohara of sago 
with which she hurries back to the village and divides it 
among her relations-in-law, reserving a portion to be cooked 
at once for her husband. 

[The following is a continuation of Captain Barton's short 
account of the voyage of the lakatoi Kavaubada given on 
page 107, and refers to the arrival of the lakatoi at Kaimare, 
and subsequent events.] The Kaimare men came aboard the 
lakatoi and much embracing took place. The baditauna and 
doritauna presented toia and other valuable ornaments and 
also their respective lots of pots to two Kaimare notables 
and these were put into the canoes. The two notables went 
ashore and killed a pig or dog which was eaten on the lakatoi 
by everybody including baditauna, doritauita and their udiha. 
The Kaimare men also ate some when given to them by the 
lakatoi crew, but the pig was definitely the property of the 
Motu. The lakatoi was then converted into a house, a spar 
was tied between the two masts as ridge pole, and a roof 
thatch of bi^d put on. 

Negotiations then took place for obtaining asi (anybody 
on the lakatoi can obtain an asi by giving an armshell to a 
Kaimare man). The Kaimare men went into the bush and 
came back with measurements (circumference) of the trees for 
asi, these being satisfactory, the trees were felled by the 
Kaimare and floated to the lakatoi where the Motu shaped 
them into asi. Every night the Kaimare women and girls 
sang, but their men took no part in this ; nor did they dance ; 
the singing went on all night, the women and girls sitting in 
a group and beating drums and singing. When the asi were 
finished they were taken by the visitors a short distance from 
the shore and wood was cut and houses built for the Motu on 
piles in the river. The lakatoi was taken to pieces, and an 
enlarged lakatoi reconstructed. When completed the Kaimare 
men, women and children went into the bush to make sago ; 

1 1 2 The Koita 

all went so that their village was deserted by all but the old 
men and women. During this time the Motu ate sago which 
was brought and sold to them by the people of Koriki and 
Vaimuru, who received in return pots and beads which had 
been retained by the Motu for this purpose. After about one 
month the Kaimare folk returned with the sago, and during 
this time of waiting the IMotu did nothing. When the sago 
was prepared it was brought back to the village and each 
Motu on hearing that his share of sago had arrived went 
ashore, placed it aboard a dug-out, and took it to the lakatoi. 
The Kaimare women cooked food in the village and the Motu 
people went ashore and ate it. 

The lakatoi did not anchor on the way home (no lakatoi 
does). Off Jokea the baditauna and do7'itauna put some sago 
and areca nuts in the iTiitahuna and called everybody to come 
and eat. No sexual intercourse ever takes place between the 
Motu and women or girls of the Gulf villages they visit. 


During the period of absence of the fleet of lakatoi from 
Port Moresby the wives of the baditatma and doritauna refrain 
from washing themselves. The same articles of food which 
are taboo to their husbands are taboo to these women'. 

Each morning at sunrise they visit and do some work 
in their husbands' gardens, but they return long before the 
customary hour to the village. While they are so engaged 
the house is left in charge of a daughter or niece who keeps 
the doors shut and attends to the fire which is never allowed 
to go out till the lakatoi return. Suspended from a rafter 
inside the house is a length of fibre {doi), and for every day 
that the lakatoi are absent, a knot is tied, beginning at the 
top. On every tenth day, that knot is distinguished by having 
a short piece of fibre tied round it, and a small feast called 
boioda takes place in each house, food for the purpose being 
brought by the relations of the men who have attached 
themselves as crew to the baditauna or doritauna. The men 
may enter the house when the food is brought, but have to 
eat their portion on the verandah, women only being allowed 
to eat inside the house. 

* Cf. p. I02 for a list of these foods. 

Return of the Lakatoi 1 1 3 

The wives of the baditauna and doritauna may visit each 
other's houses, but may not enter any other house. When 
fifty days have passed, viz. : when the fifth big knot has been 
tied, the return of the fieet is expected daily. 

It is known by omens whether matters are going well or 
ill with those who are away. These omens sometimes take 
the form of twitchings or ticklings of the body — usually in 
the feet or hands. Should these be felt on the right side 
of the body it is a good sign ; on the left side it is a bad 
omen. In the case of dreams the woman consults a sorcerer 
or sorceress, and the dream is interpreted to her. Examples 
of good and bad omens shown by dreams are as follows : 
Good (i) to see grass burning, (2) to see a dog running 
after a wallaby, (3) to be carrying a heavy load of bananas. 
Bad (i) to see a big rock or big stone, (2) to be standing 
on a piece of wood suspended over, or floating in water, 
which sinks, (3) to see a lakatoi being loaded with sago until 
it sinks. 

On the lakatoi nocturnal seminal emissions (enogegeva) 
are likewise regarded as bad omens. In the event of the 
baditauna or doritauna having one he always tells those 
aboard the lakatoi. This sign of ill fortune can only be 
counteracted if the man in question refrains for one or two 
nights from sleeping on his mat. 


The following measurements of an unusually large asi 
were taken by the late Mr F. E. Lawes, in 1886. 

ft. ins. 
Overall length from the extremity of one rostrum to the 

extremity of the other... 47 8 

Length of bottom (outside) 36 7 

Length of rostrum (each) 2 3 

Greatest circumference 15 7 

Depth (inside) 3 2 

Width Middle (inside) 2 7 

In 1884 the late Rev. Dr Lawes measured the largest 

lakatoi on its return from the Gulf. This craft consisting 

of 14 asi measured 59 ft. by 51 ft. and two smaller craft 
measured 54 ft. by 2>7 ^t. 

S. N. G. 


114 ^-^^ Koita 


The average size of the fleet for several years past has 
been twenty lakatoi. The villages which equip lakatoi are 
as follows : 


Elevara [- Port Moresby Manumanu 

Tanabada ) 

Borebada Tatana 

Boera Vabukori 

Lealea ,. Pari. 

All of these villages make pots with the exception of 
Vabukori, whose people buy their supply from other villages, 
giving in exchange strings of agevd^. A string of ageva buys 
about 1 2 pots {uro). Tatana until recently was also forced 
to obtain its pots from Port Moresby and although the women 
are gradually acquiring the craft, the bulk of the pots taken 
west by Tatana lakatoi are still bought with ageva made by 
these peopled 

The average number of men who go in a lakatoi is 29. 
In 1885 four lakatoi left Port Moresby each carrying an 
average number of 1628 pots^ In 1903 the Kwaradubuna 
iduhu {idibana and laurina) equipped a lakatoi^ named 
Bogebada, consisting of 4 asi. The total number of pots 
carried in this lakatoi v^diS 1294, giving an average therefore 
of 324 pots per asi. Assuming that 20 lakatoi sailed that 
year, and that each was composed of 4 asi, the total number 
of pots taken was 25,920. In addition to the pots the 
Kwaradubuna lakatoi took in that year 57 toia, 2 mairi, and 
8 tautau, besides a certain quantity of trade tobacco and other 
imported articles. This vessel on her return voyage consisted 
of 10 asi, and her cargo of sago would therefore have been 
about 25 tons 

Dr Lawes informed me that in 1884 the largest lakatoi 

^ [A^eva are pierced shell discs of a reddish colour obtained by chipping and 
grinding down pieces of the lip of a marine bivalve {spondylus sp.). Tatana and 
Vabukori are the only two villages within the Motu district that make ageva^ 

2 The Motu women make pots in seven shapes or sizes bearing the following 
names (i ; uro, (2) hodu^ (3) kibo, (4) oburo, {s)keiket, (6) iohe, (7) nau. The women 
of the villages of Tupeselei (Lakwaharu), Gaile, and Kapakapa, are all potters, 
and the people may be said to be of the Motu tribe ; the men are first class sailors 
yet they equip no lakatoi a,nd their pots are chiefly bartered with the bush tribes 
for food. 

3 From figures given to me by the late Dr Lawes. 

Plate XIII 

Part of interior of a lakatoi showing packages of sago 

Price of Sago 1 1 5 

consisting of 14 asi returned with 34 tons, and two others 
with 30 tons each. 

Before the white men came to British New Guinea, stone 
adze blades were taken to the Gulf as articles of trade. The 
Motu got them from Koiari, and the Koiari are said to have 
got them from people further inland, and these from somebody- 
else, but nobody here knows where they came from originally. 
The value of a large stone adze was equal to the value of a 
large toia. The Motu people have an amusing tradition of 
the origin of stone adzes. They say that only certain men 
among the tribe from whence they came were able to procure 
the adze blades. The way they procured them was by 
wading in the streams with a hand-net like a bushman's 
fishing-net. The stone adzes, ready made, swam like fish, 
and they caught them in their nets. The Motu say that they 
have heard that it was easy to know an helaga stone adze 
catcher, because his legs were always covered with scars 
inflicted by the stone adzes when these were trying to evade 
the net. 


The sago is put up in three kinds of packages (i ) gorugoru, 
(2) turua, (3) kokohara. 

A gorugoru is a package of the shape of an inverted cone, 
and is constructed of several pieces of the leathery spathe 
which grows at the base of the leaves of the sago-palm {goru), 
these being sewn together. A gorugoru contains from 6 to 14 
kokohara, the weight varying from 250 to 350 pounds. 

A ttirua is a bag made of the fibrous leaf spathe of coconut 
palm, and contains about 80 lbs. of sago. 

A kokohara is a parcel bound together by leaf fragments 
of sago palm leaves; the average weight of a kokohara is 
about 40 lbs. 

One large toia buys one large gorugoru of sago or one 
asi. One large uro buys one turua of sago. Small uro and 
keikei buy each a kokohara of sago. 

Plate XIII shows part of the interior of a lakatoi after its 
return from the Gulf Four jUcxiOm^ Siud two turua, the ^(.>u^'»i« / </ 
latter hanging to the side rail, appear in the picture. 

1 1 6 The Koita 


(Songs sung on lakatoi.) 

I have spelt and divided the words of these songs as they 

sound to my ear. 


Bogebada o viria nanaia 
Ario visuaia o veri auko 
Bnebada e laloi nanaia 
I rope umanaia ola Dauke. 


Ario visiua O vert au ko 
Ela lao nau a uro diaimu 
Iru ovo e no iru ovo. 

Maino ava ori ovo 
Nadori eva bodo?nu 
Irofie uma naia ola Dauko. 

Ela lao nace a uro diaimu 
Iro evo e no iru ovo 
Maino ava ori ovo 
Nadori ava e bodomu. 

Bogebada Is the Motu word for fish-hawk and is a 
commonly used- name for a lakatoi {oS.. pp. 103 — 4). Here and 
there a definite modern word occurs, such as nau and uro. 
It appears as though the lakatoi 'Bogebada' were being 
addressed and told to go in the direction of a village called 
Anal or Hanai, on the island of Daugo off Port Moresby. 
The site of this village is still known by the same name, but 
all that remains of it is a large accumulation of broken pottery, 
and sea shells. The only tradition the Motu people have 
concerning it is that once — in a time of great drought — their 
forefathers went there and lived for a long time on fish. This, 
however, probably refers to a much later period. 


Edai siabo idiha dakivai 
Ba negea dobi 
Edai siabo, Edai-a-siabo^ 
Edai tu mai. 

Bava a dakivai ba laru dobi 
Edai-siabOj Edai-a-siabo 
Edai-a-siabo, Edai-siabo 
Idiha dakwai. 

This song is evidently associated with the legend. 

Songs sung on Lakatoi 1 1 7 

Idiha and Bava are two small adjacent Islands on the 
barrier reef off Boera village. ' DakwaV is a kind of bag 
net generally used for catching the mullet as they jump over 
the net with which they are encircled. ' Ba ^nagea dobi' 
literally means ' Throw (thou) it down.' 


Kaimegore lalodia Ido 
Ido at ena pale aunakoia 
Boi ka oini aoma oini kuro 
Ne raro ido do binaia doka 
Ido at e ena nale e aunakoi 
Oinoi ka asi nai ba rabara. 

This song is associated with a certain lakatoi legend telling 

how two men named Kaimegore and Idogore went respectively 

as baditauna and doritauna of a lakatoi named Bogebada of 

Boera. They quarrelled about an ^.yz when waiting at the Gulf 

village, and the result was a split. One took six of the ^5/ and 

the other six, and each made his own lakatoi. Idogore reached 

home but the lakatoi belonging to Kaimegore when close to 

home, disappeared over the horizon, and those aboard it were 

never seen again. In this song it is almost impossible to 

follow the meaning. Idogore is apparently called *Ido' in 

the song. 


Danea leb lelena 
Niera viase^ mo Niere mase 
Dabe kava ovona 
Rote fat mo rote tat 
Niere mase^ Niere mase 
Idibana idia ?nase 
Rote taia, rote tai 
Laurina idia tai. 

This is a sad little song, and is apparently descriptive of 
the loss of a lakatoi at sea with those on board. ' Niere' is, 
I imagine, the name of a man or of an iduhu, and the song 
relates how he (or it) is dead, and continues * The right is 
dead, mourn, mourn; the left all mourn.' 


Lara toa ilimo raana 
O molere a molere 
Lara loa a daga raana 
Makere makere 
Molere vasia 7iua7ii e dagu 
Makere vasia e senepo. 

This refers, I think, to the preparation of a lakatoi for 
a voyage. Ilimo is the tree from which asi are made. Lele 

ii8 The Koita 

or Icrc (in second line) is " to swim." Lara a lakatoi sail 
also a part of the caulking, daga is also something to do with 
caulking. The meaning is, however, very obscure. 


Vamo vafHO e kano ai asi ela laomo 

Aiva vinaia e lao peopeo 

A peke ovi peke ovi a e dovia 

Davana imo epina ovi 

Vamo vamo rarua daonaia 

Rarua e daona daona. 

Vamo vamo is a sweet-smelling herb worn in the armlet. 
I can make nothing of this song. 


Rau abi ta no abia abio 
Doai doai 

Rau barua a doi dot 
Vavaia fnai vedia vavai 
Kala ras ranadia kala. 

A favourite song. Meaning obscure. 


Nuia oro mama data aru divo 

Nawaia Kedaia nawaia 

Noa bia davai nakore 

Diva diva inamo karua dava ovoma 


Nu seri volovolo Nuseri moka mokua 
Maleira divo^ akoria daina 
Kadina ai nopena, kadina leri i nopena 
Leri adava i nopena. 


The Toaripi people used to pay a return visit, making 
lakatoi similar to the Motu lakatoi. They would arrive 
toward the end of the north-west monsoon and return with 
the beginning of the south-east season. They still do so 
sometimes ; two such lakatoi arrived at Port Moresby this 
year [1906]. Enquiries which I made pointed to the customs 
in vogue by the Toaripi on lakatoi being the same, but less 
strictly ceremonial than on the Motu lakatoi. I gathered 
from the Toaripi people that they had adopted the custom 
from the Motu\ Concerning these expeditions the Rev. 

' [Romilly {The Western Pacific and Mashonaland, London, 1893) makes 
nnention of the Motu-Motu (Toaripi) fleet coming to Port Moresby and many of 
ihem being drifted ashore in hostile territory at Ardha (p. 258), while on p. 214 he 

Trading Language 


J. H. Holmes says : — * During the north-west monsoon many 
of the tribes of Elema send large canoes of sago to the various 
villages of the Motuan tribe.... Prior to setting out on this 
journey, Avaralaru, the god of the north-west wind, has to be 
conciliated. To this end the village sorcerer is engaged at 
a good fee to intercede with Avaralaru and the god of the 
sea, that they may give to the voyagers a safe journey and 
bring them back safely to their village and friends. Two old 
men, who are considered to be sacred during the voyage, are 
especially commissioned to accompany those expeditions, that 
they may use their influence in appealing to the gods of the 
winds and the sea to refrain from bringing any calamity upon 
the party \' 

The following is a vocabulary of the trading language 
spoken by the Elema natives and their visitors. 
















Carry (on shoulder) 





Club (stone) 


Cold (I am cold) 



Cooking pot (clay) 









1 Journ. Anthrop. Inst.Wol. xxxii. 1902, p. 431. 









Areca nut 




















Bark (tree) 





















omo eka 









Lime (bottle for) 


Bow (for arrows) 


Bowl (wood) 


Bowl (pottery) 


says 'A big trading fleet from a tribe 

strongest tribe on 

the south coast ' 






au maro ire rari 

mea itari 





roi o meda 










mai akakiri 











emasi naia 


The Koita 






































Hang (v) 














Lie down 

Life ''alive) 






kara pai 






tai eka 



koro a maia 


au buia 




umi abe 



roia bunari 






am ago 















abe karapai 



mahuta naia 

Petticoat (ramu) 
















area naia 













roio seraia 

Salt water 



See ) 
Come and see (?) \ 


ome a mai 

idi kamena naia (?) 









au toro 



kuku ruru 











mena mena mina 

eabo eabo 

South East 

laula bada utai 



sina sina naia 

arari pataia 


meda damase 

name name 





tuari (?) 


Sugar cane 
















ma gabuna 












meme seri 




hekure naia 


ake ake 





















The western sections of the Koita, especially Arauwa 
and Rokurokuna, were formerly involved in almost continual 
warfare with Kabadi ; apart from this long continued struggle 
the Koita appear to have carried on little inter-tribal fighting. 
The usual method of fighting, where the combatants were 
of different tribes, or where the quarrel was of old enough 
standing to have become embittered and passed on as a 
hereditary affair, was the night attack. In this, a village was, 
as nearly as possible, surrounded quietly during the hours of 
darkness, and the attack made at dawn ; if all went well for 
the attacking party, they killed the majority of the inhabitants 
regardless of age and sex, and looted and perhaps burnt the 
village. The account given by Chalmers of some episodes 
of the fighting on the western borders of the Koita well 
illustrates the methods of warfare in vogue, and shows that 
a considerable number of people fell in these encounters\ 

The passages quoted are not very clear as they stand but 
they become more definite when it is remembered that Lealea 
is the name of the village of the Arauwa section of the Koita, 
and that Manumanu is a mixed Koita-Motu village. 

'Towards the end of 1880 I arrived at Manumanu, 
intending to proceed up the Edith River, hoping thereby 
to reach Doura, and thence advance to the spurs on the 
western side of Mount Owen Stanley. The old chief of 
Manumanu, Naime, on my arrival told me it would be 
madness to proceed, as the Koitabuans of Lokurukuna, a 
district in Redscar Bay, had gone up the day before to 
revenge the deaths of several of their people, killed years 

^ Pioneering in New Guinea^ 1887, pp. 91 — 1 15« 

122 The Koita 

ago by the Dourans, and that very morning several Douran 
bodies had floated down the stream.' 

* Several months afterwards I visited the Dourans, going 
in from Caution Bay, and found them living away from their 
villages, still keeping a good lookout for the Koitabuans. 
On my return to the coast I found that the Koitabuans were 
quite satisfied with the ''payment" they had given [? taken], 
and were now willing to make peace, and be In the future 
friendly with the Doura : but the latter, although pretending 
to wish for peace, really meant revenge when the suitable 
time came.' 

* Time wore on, and we were in hopes things would take 
a favourable turn, and from the long silence thought it possible 
the Koitabuans might move first in proposing peace and 
invite the Dourans to an exchange of presents, or the 
Dourans might even sue for peace ; but a few weeks ago 
showed that the savage's feelings of revenge are not decreased 
by length of time ' 

* I must here explain the relation in which the Kabadi 
stood to the Doura and the Koitabu tribes. They were one 
with the former and very friendly, while with the latter they 
were at bitter enmity.' 

' Many years ago, when the western sago trading ex- 
pedition had gone, the Kabadi, to revenge the murder of one 
or two of their youths, attacked Lealea, a village in Caution 
Bay, and killed a large number of women and children.-...' 

' On the return of the trading canoes, great was the 
sorrow of the crews... and when the first overwhelming 
feeling of grief... had subsided, the Koitabuans, with the 
Lealeans, resolved on signal and terrible revenge ' 

' Some time after, both parties arranged to attack the 
Kabadi on the same night. The Koitabuans assembled in 
great force. They came from Badili, Barune, Lealea, and 
all the villages of Lokurukuna, and were led by the real 
Lealeans, who knew only of one village in the Kabadi 
country, Matapaila. They surrounded it very early one 
morning when the inhabitants were fast asleep, and killed 
men, women and children, plundering the village and setting 
fire to it. A very few escaped, and they made good use of ^ 
their time ' 

* There are several other villages in the district, and tdj 
these the refugees hurried with their tale of woe.... Soon fresh, i 

Warfare 123 

strong men, full of wrath and revenge, surrounded the rejoicing 
victors, and the work of death began. A terrible morning it 
was, as only two escaped to tell the tale. Since that time 
there has been constant war between the tribes, each killing 
individuals as occasion offered.' 

* So a few weeks ago the Dourans, wishing for revenge, 
knew well where to apply. They went to the Kabadi with 
pigs, etc., and found in my old friend Maimearua of Keveo 
a glad and willing ally ' 

' The Manumanuans had hitherto kept out of the whole 
affair. They had grievances against the Dourans and the 
Kabadis, but waived them all for the sake of peace and 
friendship, and perhaps because they were afraid of the Port 
Moresby natives, who looked upon the Kabadi country as 
their winter market. Although the Manumanu were one 
tribe with the Port Moresby natives, should the former punish 
the Kabadi by killing a Kabadian, the market would be 
closed, and the Port Moresby natives might wipe them out, 
relations or no relations.' 

' The Dourans arranged the night of attack, and selected 
two small villages of the Lokurukuna district for their revenge. 
The Kabadi joined them in the river, and in two large canoes 
the united forces proceeded stealthily down one of the creeks 
of the river, landed, and surrounded both villages. It was 
early morning, before the sunlight appeared over the great 
Owen Stanley Mountains, that the work of murder and rapine 

'The Koltabuans, finding themselves hemmed In, seem 
to have thought of revenge rather than defence, and the men 
seized their arms and shields, cut their way through the enemy, 
leaving the women and children to their fate. In the rush, 
fifteen Koitabuans were killed, the others escaped. The 
Dourans, led by my big friend Adu, and the Kabadis by 
Naimearua, began their horrible work, and killed all the 
women and children they could get, in all forty... .When the 
work of blood was over, they began to loot and burn, then 
prepared to leave, happy in their morning's work.... When the 
sun appeared well over Mount Owen Stanley, all embarked In 
their canoes. They returned by the same creek to the river, 
and, as they ascended, those not paddling were horn-blowing, 
dancing, and singing ; but, to their horror, some distance up, 
the river was blocked by a large fleet of Koltabu canoes, 

124 ^^^ Koita 

packed with men wild with revenge, consisting not only of 
the warriors who escaped, but numbers from other villages* 
The conquerors put about; and paddled back, to get into 
the bay and pull up to the mouth of the river at Manu- 

'All night a strong south-east wind had been blowing, 
and by that time it blew a gale, causing a heavy sea on the 
bar of the creek entering the bay. A few got through, but 
other canoes went adrift, and had to be abandoned. The 
warriors returned to the shore determined to walk overland 
to Manumanu. They were hotly pursued by the Koitabuans, 
who had previously sent on two messengers to inform the 
Manumanuans of the morning's work. When at the point 
near the village, the latter, after having wept for the dead, 
came out and met the conquerors of the morning hard pushed 
by the pursuers ; several Dourans had already fallen, and the 
flush of victory had quite gone. The Manumanuans joined 
in the fight, and assisted the Koitabuans. The Kabadis who 
were successful in crossing the bar landed, hoping to help the 
Dourans, but they soon saw that it was of little avail to 
contend against the combined forces of Koitabuans and 
Manumanuans, and rushed for the village, a hundred yards 
off, and secreted themselves in one of the houses. Two 
young chiefs, Seri and Taera, Manumanuans, arrived from 
the other side of the river, and at once set to work to save 
the secreted fugitives. Two had been killed in the fight, ^v^ 
ran and took to the river, and were there drowned or carried 
off by crocodiles ; all the others were landed safely on the 
other side. The Kabadis, however, say none were drowned 
or taken by crocodiles, but that the whole seven were killed 
by the Manumanuans.' 

* The Dourans held out long and well. For them there 
was no hope of escape, and they fought to the bitter end. 
Four got to the village and secreted themselves in one of 
the houses. Three youths of Manumanuan mothers were 
saved by their relatives, the others were seized by the strong 
men, and the youths and little children were called upon to 
take spears and despatch them. Children just able to carry 
a spear were tattooed, and will in future boastfully speak of 
having slain a man. Those secreted in the house were burnt 
out and then speared....' 

' Except two men, all the Manumanu men and boys claim 


Warfare 125 

to have killed, or helped to kill, one or more ; several claimed 
the honour of killing the same man.' 

Another episode of the ' state of war ' which existed on 
the western frontier of the Koita territory is narrated by 
Chalmers as follows : 

' One attack by the Koitabuans last October was, even 
for savages, a cruel and mean affair. The Lealea Koitabuans, 
also some from Kevana, Baruni, and Euria, assembled close 
by where our camp now is. Two Koitabuans, the same who 
led us in three years ago, who were considered very friendly 
and trusted by the Dourans, left the fighting party about 
midday, and, knowing the district well, searched for and 
found a party of Dourans in by the range. The latter asked 
why they had come, and the former answered, '' Peacefully, 
and to bring you messages of peace and friendship. There 
has been killing enough and the Koitabuans are satisfied." 
The poor Dourans were woefully deceived. Men, women, 
and children came down to the river bank and camped there 
that night. The. following morning they were surrounded, 
and very few escaped. One villain from Port Moresby — 
a half Motuan — killed three with one spear. He transfixed 
a mother with her infant, which she was pressing to her 
breast....! have just heard the reason why the half-Motuans 
joined the party that so treacherously attacked the Dourans. 
Some one told Bemo Raho Bada, an old Koitabuan, that the 
Kevana natives were going to wipe out the remnant of the 
Dourans, and advised him to join and pay off some very old 
score. He cried bitterly, saying, ''Alas, alas! I am old, and 
unable to walk so far, and have only two daughters, who are 
with their husbands. Oh ! who can go "^ I have no one who 
cares for me. Who will take my spear and seek payment ? " 
Long he wailed and loudly he wept, and wished he had only 
a son. Some one came to Hitolo, the half-Motuan, who is 
married to one of the daughters, and said, " Do you not care 
for your father-in-law's tears and loud wailing? Arise, take 
his spear, and go for him." 'T cannot; we are now at peace, 
and the missionaries will be angry." ''Ah, you are weak and 
frightened, and dare not go." " No, I am not ; I have strength ; 
I will take his spear and join the party, and wipe off the old 

From these passages it will be seen that although the 
tactics of the Koita and their opponents were equally directed 

126 The Koita 

to avoiding pitched battles in which both sides would 
necessarily ^lose heavily, the Koita when cornered fought 
well and when sufficiently provoked by their losses did not 
hesitate to make counter-attacks on successful raiding parties 
in broad daylight, under circumstances in which there could 
be no element of sudden surprise. Further, these accounts 
suo-o-est that although the state of war existed especially 
beWeen the Koita and the Kabadi, the Motu sometimes 
joined the Koita, in fact the Koita-Motu settlements appear 
at times to have acted as a single fighting unit, that is to 
say as if the inhabitants of one of these villages all belonged 
to one tribe. My own information supports this view, and 
Captain Barton supplies an instance in which visitors, with no 
direct concern in the quarrel, joined a mixed Motu-Koita war 
party in taking the offensive, at some distance from the village 
of the attacking party. 

' A fight took place between Poreporena and Boera about 
the year 1870, or it may have been a few years earlier. The 
cause of the fight, as far as I can recollect from the account 
given me by an old Motu who was present, was an insult 
given by the Boera people to some Porebada men who were 
fishing near Boera. Angry words were exchanged between 
the Porebada and Boera men on the fishing ground, which 
ended in the Boera men giving the Porebada men a beating 
with sticks. The Porebada hurried overland to Poreporena, 
and called upon the men at that place to help them to 
revenge the insult ; some Gulf natives who happened to be at 
Poreporena joined the party, and an attack was planned and 
carried out. Half the attacking force went to Boera by land 
and half in canoes by sea ; the Boera people were thus caught 
between the two forces, and several were killed and perhaps 
the village burnt.' 

An individual of the attacking party would sometimes 
warn special friends or members of his iduhu in the threatened 
village that an attack was pending, and advise them to go 
away quietly without saying anything about the warning 
received. Whether they did this or told their fellow villagers 
and thus frustrated the attack, the informer does not appear 
to have been punished or regarded as a traitor. In point of 
fact individuals, or families so warned, seem to have very 
generally kept the warning to themselves. Accidental homi- 
cide within the tribe might lead to a good deal of loud talk, 

IVarfare 127 

but not to war, and payment would be accepted for the dead 
man, but if the victim of the accident were a member of 
another tribe the blood price heni (M. kwarava) might be 
refused, and war result, though it seemed that matters were 
generally settled peaceably^ 

The following incident related by Ahuia well illustrates 
how suddenly trouble, leading perhaps to war, might arise, 
and how it would be dealt with. 

A man of Dubara iduhu, Daure Garia of Kilakila village, 
had assembled a party to burn certain grass land called 
Varitete. Among the party were a number of Koiari, one of 
whom Magani Numuru, was accidentally killed. The Koiari 
had thrown at and missed a wallaby which passed between 
him and Daure Garia. Daure Garia immediately threw his 
spear, which missing the wallaby, hit Numuru in the neck, 
and wounded him so severely that he died in a short time. 

Daure Garia and his father immediately returned to 
Kilakila, the Koiari meanwhile hotly discussing what should 
be done. Opinion was much divided, some wanted to kill 
Daure Garia, while others held that the matter should be 
adjusted amicably. The visiting Koiari were staying with 
the Akorogo and Yawai sections of the Koita, who were then 
united at a site called Kaugeri near the present village of 
Akorogo. Finally the peace party prevailed and the Koiari 
agreed to accept heni. 

Daure Garia had meanwhile been sent from Kilakila to 
Hohodai, to stay there under the protection of his clansman 

The Kilakila men settled among themselves how much 
it would be fair to give the Koiari, and when they had 
agreed, the latter were brought to Kilakila by one of the 
then iduhu rohi of Kaugeri, to see the amount offered, and, if 
satisfactory, to accept the same. The heni provided was 
accepted, it included one big pig, and more than ten articles 
of value including toia, doa, tautau, mairi and dodoma. If 
these had not been accepted a vendetta would undoubtedly 
have arisen, since a homicide was never given up to another 

1 It has already been stated on p. 71 that heni is the name for the ceremony 
observed soon after the birth of a first born child, and that in this ceremony the 
child, decked with valuable ornaments, is carried by its mother to her parents 
while the child's father stays quietly in the house. 

128 The Koita 

I do not know whether sections of the eastern and 
western Koita would, when fighting against each other, employ 
night attacks, but probably they did, since the eastern moiety 
annihilated Namura. That the sections of the eastern group 
did not thus attack each other was quite clear, indeed they 
were only at enmity when a blood feud existed, and even 
then certain amenities were observed which were omitted 
between hostile tribes, and in long-standing and embittered 


If a man stole from the garden of a fellow villager of a 
different idiihu, there would be some loud talk and very 
likely a rough and tumble scuffle with sticks, stones and clubs 
between the members of the iduhu concerned. There would 
be no intention of killing anyone, and the minor wounds 
which resulted would not be paid for. If life were lost there 
might be talk of starting a vendetta, but the community 
led by their rohi ketaike would see that this was not done, 
and after more or less discussion a blood price would be 
accepted. A stranger, even though a Koita, might be killed 
if he were caught stealing in a garden. Under these cir- 
cumstances a blood feud would result, which might be carried 
on in one of two ways, explained by Ahuia by the following 
hypothetical instance. 

Supposing a Hohodai man killed a Baruni man who was 
trespassing in and stealing from his garden ; the Hohodai 
would on his return to his village tell his iduhu rohi, and 
the latter would talk over the matter with the rohi ketaike, 
who, after consultation with the old men, would decide 
whether under certain circumstances the slayer should be 
defended or given up. In any case nothing would be done 
until Baruni made a move, for it was certain that this would 
not take the form of a night surprise since in a general way 
the two communities were friendly. Baruni might do nothing 
at the time, but quietly await a favourable opportunity of 
killing a man, woman or child of Hohodai and so settle its 
debt. Or Baruni might consider that the dead man was 
worth fighting for. In this case the Baruni men send no 
herald or intimation of their intention but one afternoon, fully 
armed and making no attempt at concealment, they would 




approach Hohodai, yelling and crying that they had come to 
revenge their murdered fellow-villager. On this a fight 
might ensue, which would usually stop as soon as one 
Hohodai man was killed, unless Hohodai had previously 
killed other Baruni. In this event the fight was supposed 
to continue until Baruni had killed one more man than 
Hohodai. As, however, a war party usually fled when once 
two or three members had been killed, and was cut up by the 
victors to some extent in the flight, battles such as these, 
instead of terminating a blood feud often started new ones, 
and in time might lead to a chronic state of enmity, punctuated 
by new murders and reprisals. 

If the Hohodai men did not wish to fight they might 
agree to give up the murderer. This took place with con- 
siderable ceremony. The murderer retired into his house 
where he ornamented and painted himself. In this he was 
usually helped by his henamo. His pig was killed, or if he 
had not one, then one belonging to his hena^no. The Baruni 
men had meanwhile surrounded his house and lit fires, round 
which they would squat all night. The pig was cooked and 
eaten in the murderer's house by his fellow-villagers, his 
iduhu rohi and rohi ketaike joining in the feast. It was 
a point of honour for the condemned man to eat, though his 
near relatives and friends showed their sorrow at his ap- 
proaching fate by abstaining. Throughout the pig-eating, 
which was kept up all night, the women wailed. At dawn the 
murderer was stripped of his ornaments, and the rohi ketaike, 
taking him by his right hand and upper arm, led him down 
his house ladder. As soon as they reached the ground the 
rohi ketaike sprang back on to the ladder, while the Baruni 
speared and clubbed their victim to death. The rohi ketaike 
would then say ' Now finish, you kill no more man, we been 
give you this man.' The Baruni yelling war cries would 
retire, and their victim would be buried in the usual way. 


When a man had killed another, whether the victim were 
male or female, the blood was not washed off the spear or 
club but carefully allowed to dry on. The homicide bathed 
in salt or fresh water on his way to the village, and went 
straight to his house, in which he stayed secluded for about a 

S. N. G. 9 

130 The Koita 

week. He was aina^, and might not approach women, and 
though there apparently were no food taboos, he Hfted his 
food to his mouth with a single-pronged fork made of pig or 
kangaroo bone. His womenfolk did not necessarily leave 
the house, though they took care not to approach him. At 
the end of a week, he built a rough shelter in the bush, in 
which he lived for a few days, often in the company of other 
men of about his own tribal status. During this time he 
made a new sihi which he wore on his return to the village. 
A dance, called bago^^, was then held, after which the homicide 
and others sat and ^yarned' on the dubu until nightfall; he 
then returned to his house, and ceased to be aina. 

A homicide was entitled to wear certain decorations which 
varied somewhat with the sex of his victim. For a man, 
certain tattoo marks were also worn, viz. a longitudinal line 
down the back on each side of, and about two inches from, 
the middle line, and a design on the deltoid region of each 
upper arm ; further, designs were tattooed on the chest and 
over the shoulder, as is shown in Plate XIV. This mans 
decoration was gained in the attack on Boera, mentioned on 
page 126. As ornaments the homicide wears the mandible 
of a hornbill stuck point first into his hair, a shell frontlet 
called seribu, and on his head a rosette of white cockatoo 
feathers called kaidodu. For a woman, a homicide would 
wear a frontlet of cassowary plumes called yadeu, and in his 
hair kaidodo and panapa, the plumes of Paradisea raggiana. 

A man who had killed another was stated to get thin 
and to lose condition. This was because he had been 
splashed with the blood of his victim, and as the corpse 
rotted, so he too wasted. So firmly was this believed, that 
in the old days a man who got thin without losing his health, 
and for no obvious reason, would have been suspected of 
having killed somebody. 

^ Aina corresponds to the Motu helaga. Cf. footnote, p. loi. 
^ The words which were sung at the bago dance are given in chapter xni, like 
many other of their songs their meaning is unknown to the Koita. 

Plate XIV 

Tattoo assumed by homicide 



It will be shown in the section on Religion, that the 
Koita have no deity or superior power in relation to whom a 
sense of responsibility could arise. The clan, or village 
chiefs, the iduhu rohi and rohi ketaike, have not the 
authority requisite to initiate or decide any important matter 
without first discussing it with the elders of the community. 
And even these discussions are carried on as informally as 
possible ; they take place not on the dubu but on the verandah 
of the rohi ketaike, and no formal notice is given that they 
will take place. Above all, there is no one person to ap- 
portion praise or blame, or even to confer rewards for actions 
of advantage to the community. Under these circumstances 
it is not surprising that the sense of responsibility and of 
effort is communal and not individual, and that the Koita 
system of morals does not teach or express individual effort 
and individual salvation, but on the contrary teaches the due 
subordination of the individual and his efforts in the sum of 
the tribal activities, which, broadly speaking, allow no room 
for individual initiative. Hence homicide and theft are not 
considered reprehensible in themselves, but only become so 
when directed against members of the community or tribe, 
or against outsiders strong enough to avenge themselves 
on the tribe. 

But although individual morality scarcely exists, and 
although there are no initiation ceremonies for members of 
either sex, and no special instruction in behaviour and 
etiquette is given, both boys and girls seem invariably to 
conform to the traditions of the tribe, so that there are no 
spoiled children to be seen. Indeed disrespect to parents or 
elders is unknown among the elder children, any of whom 
will usually promptly obey or courteously fulfil any order or 

132 The Koita 

request made by an elderly man, even if he be in no way 
related to them. 

There is one noteworthy fact which, although its exact 
relationship is not obvious, must, apart from a certain strength 
of character of the people, ultimately depend upon their non- 
individual system of morality. This fact is the comparatively 
small extent to which the Koita have been influenced by the 
habits and beliefs of Europeans. The Koita and their Motu 
neighbours have been in intimate association with white men 
comprising government officers, missionaries and traders for 
over thirty years. This association has been particularly 
intimate in the Hanuabada villages where there has been a 
mission for the last thirty years, while the villages themselves 
are only a mile and a half from the white settlement which is 
the seat of government of the Possession, and has a large 
store. It is not too much to say that during the greater 
part of this time, the abolition of his social system of morality 
has tacitly but constantly been held before the native as a 
good and desirable thing. The government have insisted on 
the idea of individual effort, rewards and punishments, and 
the care taken to inflict punishment only on actual criminals 
has forced the Koita and Motu to recognize the white man's 
doctrine of individual, as opposed to tribal, communal, or 
family responsibility in criminal matters. The Mission has 
with equal constancy preached the doctrine of individual 
salvation, and although the trader has not intentionally taught 
the doctrine of individual gain, the unit to be served is 
clearly the individual, not the family or clan. The native has 
thus continually before him the example of effort directed to 
individual gain. It is therefore remarkable that the teaching 
and example of a people, whom the Koita look up to on 
account of their skill, and the mechanical appliances they 
control, though brought to bear on a small population, have 
not proved sufficient to deeply influence these people, or to 
produce the degradation and degeneration which the white 
man's influence so often exerts, and has exerted in other parts 
of New Guinea. The Koita keep their old clan and village 
organisation, there is no very marked tendency to wear 
white men's clothes and finery, they have kept the majority 
of their old customs and their old dances, and it seems 
that the old beliefs, in the case of the great majority of 
the tribe, have not been given up, and are in a fair way 

Morals 1 33 

to being passed on to the rising generation. Even the 
general health of the villages that I saw was good, and 
all this, In the face, not only of white influence, but also 
of another even more potent factor making for degeneration 
in a native population, viz. the presence of the white man's 
followers, that large undesirable class of coloured aliens who 
throughout the East dog the white man's steps. Malays, 
Polynesians and alien Melaneslans, astonishing half-breeds 
and a few Chinese, examples of all these have drifted to 
New Guinea, and some have lived in or near the Port 
Moresby villages for some time ; yet even their presence 
has not produced any deep change In the Kolta and Motu. 
It seems certain then, that the moral disposition and system 
of the Koita not only suited their environment fifty years 
ago, but have been strong enough to bar the approach of some 
of the worst evils consequent on bringing civilisation to the 
natives of the Pacific. This result is doubtless largely due 
to the success with which the government has kept alcohol 
from the natives of the Central Division. Perhaps a hint 
of what might have happened under a different policy — for 
alcohol could hardly have failed to prove seductive — may be 
gathered from what is said on page 135 concerning the intro- 
duced habit of gambling. 


Petty theft is not common, and when it occurs little notice 
is, as a rule, taken of It, unless the thief be caught in the act, 
when he may be severely handled or thrashed by the Injured 
Individual and his friends ; or the sufferer may consult a 
sorcerer, who often really discovers the thief, using, it is 
alleged, magical means (cf. Divination, chapter xv). The thief 
will then return the stolen property or make good its value. 

Stealing food from the gardens even in small quantities is 
considered a much more serious matter. In the old days a 
member of a foreign tribe, or even of a distant section caught 
stealing food might have been killed, while a fellow villager 
would have been roundly abused for this offence, and a brawl 
in the village would probably have resulted. It has, how- 
ever, always been allowable for a hungry man to take and 
eat bananas from another man's garden, provided the legiti- 
mate owner were told of it on an early occasion. If he were 

134 The Koita 

not told, and subsequently discovered his loss, the incident 
would have led to a good deal of abuse, and probably a 
villaore brawl. In tradinof transactions in which credit was 
given, that part of the payment which was deferred was always 
paid at the appointed time, indeed a fresh debt of identical 
character would usually be incurred, if this were necessary, in 
order to pay off the older debtor. 


Both sexes make excellent parents, the men especially 
often seeming absurdly indulgent to their children who are 
never ill-treated nor even punished. In their turn the 
children grow up imbued with kindliness and consideration 
for their elders, and especially for the old men. Although 
the men make undemonstrative husbands, wives are usually 
well treated. They are seldom beaten or neglected, and 
nowadays a native will often spend a considerable part of his 
wages on calico for his wife. The women make good wives, 
and are generally faithful, willing and cheerful workers, and 
divorces have probably never been frequent. 

Unmarried girls and boys are allowed to act very much 
as they please in regard to their sexual relations. Continence, 
except when ceremonially imposed on the man, is practically 
unknown, and the girls are habitually unchaste. The greatest 
decorum is, however, observed between the sexes, while in 
public they usually avoid each other. In spite of the pre- 
vailing licence, illegitimate children are very rare, and although 
abortion is undoubtedly still brought about, it seems that even 
in the old days this practice was less common than might have 
been expected. Unnatural practices seem to be unknown. 


Homicide seems only to have been considered repre- 
hensible when the death of the individual was likely to get 
the section, village or iduhu into difficulties with the dead 
man's kin, or the victim was a clansman, relative or friend. 
In intertribal warfare no mercy was shown to the women and 
children of a captured village, all were killed^ 

Revenge was formerly a sacred duty which fell especially 
to the dead man's brothers and henamo. 

Cf. War and Homicide, pp. 121 — 125. 


Gambling ' 135 

Abortion was formerly produced without any feeling of 
doing wrong. 

Strangers were not killed simply because they were 
strangers, indeed generally speaking they seem to have 
been well treated. Moresby's description of his treatment 
by, and of his relations with, the natives in the neighbour- 
hood of Port Moresby, conveys the Idea that the Koita and 
Motu were kindly, unsuspicious folk\ Later when a Mission 
was started at Port Moresby nothing worse than some 
pilfering, blustering talk and threats occurred. In spite, as 
it appears, of the sometimes tactless attitude of ' native,' 
i.e. Polynesian teachers. 


The result of the most careful inquiries showed that 
formerly the Koita knew nothing of any game in which a 
gambling element occurred, nor did anything in the nature of 
betting exist. Yet at the present day all the young, and 
some of the middle-aged men of all the sections of the tribe 
with which I am acquainted, are Inveterate gamblers, willing 
to stake not only the whole of their wages but their personal 
property as well. As far as I know, they have adopted but 
one method of gambling. One of their number holds a pack 
of cards from which he takes a card, and bets are made on the 
colour or suit of the card turned up. The young adults of 
the Koita and Motu tribes — the class from which the greater 
part of the servants at Port Moresby are drawn — will. If 
undisturbed, spend the whole night playing this game, meeting 
under boatsheds, or other available shelters, with the result 
that they are not fit to work the next day. So great a 
nuisance has the gambling habit become, that recently a 
regulation was enacted, that no native servant should be out 
of doors within the precincts of the white settlement after 
9.30 p.m. without a written permission from his master. 

^ J. Moresby, Discoveries and Surveys in New Guinea and the d^ Entrecasteaux 
Islands^ p. 154 ^/ seq. 



Certain forms of taboo signs have special names, but the 
general word for taboo as applied to trees and garden produce 
generally, seems to be tora (M. aurago), though really this Is 
the word used to signify the taboo sign on coconut trees 
which can only be erected with the consent of the old men of 
the village after public discussion. 

Bodibo (M. ikivato). This Is the common form of taboo 
sign on a single coconut or other tree. Of old this taboo was 
made with magic ceremonial, and If Infringed would bring 
sickness on the wrongdoer. Ahula thought, that some old 
men might still use magic In making this taboo, but that 
recently government influence had so much increased that 
any medicine used would be made secretly. The taboo sign 
consists of a wisp of grass, tied In a single knot, which Is 
not pulled tight ; through the loop of this knot a string is 
passed and tied round the trunk of the tree. 

Garabi (K. and M.) was the name for the ordinary taboo 
sign applied to a single tree, made by plaiting a series of 
coconut or sago leaves round the tree trunk, or If this were 
small, tying a single leaf round It. 

The taboos of which bodibo and garabi are the signs may 
have magical sanction, but whether In any particular case they 
are * medicined ' or not would depend largely on their maker's 
fancy. But since there is no doubt that any example of either 
of these taboo signs may indicate magical protection of the 
objects to which they apply, they are quite efficacious safe- 
guards, and it is certainly to the fear of the results of infringing 
their magical properties, that their efficacy is primarily due. 



Tora is the name applied to the comparatively imposing 
taboo sign which is put by the side of a path, or in a garden, 

Fig. 10. Native drawing of taboo signs. 

The translation of a note by Ahuia sent with this drawing is as follovvs : 'This 
thing is named thus, tora. Bananas and yams, also coconuts and all other thmgs 
will be carefully watched after the manner of a law. Koita tora, Motu tongue 

138 The Koita 

and which protects all the coconut palms, or even all the pro- 
duce of a garden or series of gardens. The tora carries with 
it no direct magical power or sanction. It is, as Ahuia puts it, 
'native law,' and it could not be erected without the consent 
of the older men of the village, while if infringed its violation 
would ensure the full force of public opinion being directed 
against the offender. Two tora and one garabi are shown in 
figure 10, drawn by Ahuia. 

Water was never tabooed, though a tora might be erected 
by the side of a water hole in order to taboo the surrounding 

The track to a new garden, and consequently the garden 
itself might be tabooed by planting a stick on each side of the 
track, carrying a length of creeper between, and suspending 
from it one or more of the knotted wisps of grass, bodibo, to 
which allusion has already been made, as is shown in 
figure 10. Here a certain amount of magical protection 
is implied. A rough and ready, but generally recognized 
form of taboo on a garden track, is for the owner to cut 
down a tree so that it blocks the road. 

Firewood may be tabooed, even before being cut up, by 
tying a wisp of grass round the tree, or, after cutting, round 
the faggots. This is called umuraumura (M. nanainanai) and 
implies no magical protection. If a man hunting by himself 
kill any game which it is inconvenient for him to carry, he 
can safely leave this by the side of a track covered with 
broken branches, or even slung in the fork of a tree. Here, 
again, although the covering with branches implies no magical 
protection, his quarry would not be touched. A Koita calls 
such broken branches koava ; a Motu would say they were 

From what has been said it will be noted that generally 
speaking little or no difference in respect is accorded to 
property taboos magically enforced, and to those having only 
the force of custom or public opinion behind them. 


Mourning taboos are considered with death and mourning 
ceremonies (chapter xiv), but besides these there are a 
number of miscellaneous taboos in connection with death. 
Those relating to Homicide are considered on page 130, but 




in the ordinary way, the neighbours of a dead man, whatever 
his iduhu, may not go to any new garden until after the 
lahidairi ceremony (cf. chapter xiv), though they may visit and 
fetch food from their old gardens. Strangers visiting houses 
near that in which the death has occurred, must observe the 
same rule. Ahuia made it clear that the reason for this 
avoidance was the actual proximity of the corpse, which is 
considered highly aina, or as the Motu would say helaga. 
The custom itself is called taubu. 


Neither among Koita nor Motu are there food taboos 
binding only on one village, iduhu, or family. 

The following fish may not be eaten by young folk and 
adolescents, under penalty of their skin becoming harsh, 
which would cause members of the opposite sex to dislike 
them, daiadai a sting ray, taritari a shark, balala, barubaru, 
nohu, gudu, napi, dikaka, wairamoku, magoa, kwatakwata, 

For the same reason the intestines of wallaby are not 
eaten, while the liver is eaten by girls only. 

Two fish, beke and gani with spines, which are described 
as poisonous, may be eaten by boys, but must be avoided by 
girls, under penalty of their tattoo becoming extremely sore. 

The food taboos associated with pregnancy and the puer- 
perium are given on pp. 84 and 86. 


Except on the occasion of the tabu ceremony (cf. chapter 
xii) women are not allowed upon the dubu, but I could hear 
of no other place taboos or holy places, although certain 
localities associated with the spiritual agencies, called tabu, are 
rigidly avoided by both sexes. Visiting these might entail 
evil results, as in the case of the hill known as Hara Tabu 
(chapter xvi). The names of these places are freely men- 


There are no taboos on the names of the dead, but some 
relatives and connections by marriage are not addressed by 
their names, which certain members of the family should not 
even mention. 

140 The Koita 

Most of the younger men object to mentioning their own 
name, and when asked it in public, generally allow, or ask, 
one of their comrades to answer for them. 


Continence is insisted on when making a new garden. If 
a man so employed approach his wife his yams will grow but 
poorly. The same restriction among the Motu applies to the 
' master ' of a turtle or dugong fishing party, or to any one 
connected with making new turtle or dugong nets. The 
sexual restrictions imposed on the captain and crew of a 
lakatoi are given on p. loi, those connected with pregnancy 
and the puerperium on pp. 84 and 86. 

A menstruous woman may not enter a * new ' garden, i.e. 
one made during the last planting season, whether it is bearing 
fruit or not. She may, however, enter and fetch food from a 
garden of any previous season, and she may fetch water and 
cook food. She occupies the same house as her husband, 
but sleeps apart from him, and she should not leave the house 
at night. 

There is no special ceremony when the catamenia first 
appear, nor is a girl at this time specially avoided or con- 
sidered especially dangerous. 



Feasts play an important part in the life of the Koita, 
indeed there is probably no occasion of importance in the 
life of the individual, the clan or the village, that should not 
normally be marked by the consumption of food, especially 
prepared for people who come together for the express 
purpose of eating it. The size and importance of these 
meetings vary from small family gatherings, on such occasions 
as that on which a youth is given his first perineal bandage, 
to the elaborate mourning feasts bowa, i ^cnedair^ , and ita the uyUm^] 
observance of which colours the life of the whole iduhu for ' 

months. The feasts which are the prominent feature of and 
may indeed be said to constitute the tabu ceremonial (the 
occasion on which new dubu are generally built), affect the 
life of the community for even a longer period, since the 
amount of food required usually necessitates the making of 
extra gardens, the produce of which is not gathered till just 
before the feast. 

I heard of only six ceremonial feasts among the Koita of 
Port Moresby. The time spent upon this subject was, how- 
ever, too short to enable me to satisfy myself that there were 
not others, though doubtless those described by my informants 
are the most important. 

The three mourning feasts bowa, venedairi and ita are de- 
scribed in the section on death and mourning, in chapter xiv. 

Of the remaining feasts koriko, tabu, and hekarai only the 
first is of frequent occurrence. It is a comparatively small 
festivity, unaccompanied by dancing, and consists of the dis- 
tribution of vegetable food to neighbouring friendly villages. 
It seems likely that it arose as a convenient way of disposing 
of surplus food, it being assumed that the recipients would 
return the compliment, when they, in their turn, had more 

1^2 7"/^^ Koita 

food than they could consume. But as existing at the present 
day, it Is a highly conventionalised affair necessitating frequent 
and anxious visits to the gardens, on the part of all concerned, 
and particularly by the iduhu rohi or rohi ketaike In charge 
of the ceremony. It is, in fact, an example of those more or 
less ceremonial exchanges of food that are so common in this 
part of New Guinea, an example of which, on a smaller scale, 
has already been given on page 79, In the chapter on marriage. 
Of the hekarai ceremony, it is difficult to say anything, 
except that it clearly takes place as the result of rivalry 
between two prominent men, each of whom has a following 
in the village, and that its preliminaries curiously resemble 
those of the hiri, the annual trading voyage to the Papuan 


The tabu is probably the most important feast of the 
Koita, Motu, and the neighbouring folk, and a feast bearing 
the same name, and presenting essentially similar features, 
but often conducted on an even ampler scale. Is found among 
the coastal tribes of the Central Division eastward as far as 
the Hood Peninsula. At these feasts the whole country side 
assembles, and they are so long recollected that the tabu 
held by the Dubara and other clans during their migrations 
under Ova Abau were remembered, and even used In argu- 
ment, to fix the order of their migrations. Few tabu are now 
held among the Koita and Motu, indeed the tabu held in 1904 
at Pari was distinctly In the nature of a revival, and It Is 
pleasing to record, that in spite of the veneer of civilization 
attained by the coast natives of the Central Division, it was 
a complete success. 


In this feast all the iduhu of the village take part. 
Bananas are gathered and brought Into the village by the 
men and the men only, of its constituent iduhu, who pile the 
bananas In heaps, called teri, In front of the house of an iduhu 
rohi. The progress of the ceremony will be best made 
clear by an account of a koriko seen at Hohodal in October 

By 2 p.m. about 100 bunches of bananas had been 
collected In the village, these were piled In eight heaps In the 
village street, opposite the house in which Taubada and 






\- f 


■«o-.»> ^ 






(«T*.'. Sr 


^•;??:-3t ^^: 






^ 7 


^' — — — f^i^ 











ii ,-i i T 1 




The Koriko Feast 143 

Ahuia live. A large number of yams were also piled on 
the verandah of this house. Each of these had one or more 
pieces scooped out of them where ' eyes ' for planting had 
been removed. These ' eyed ' portions, it was stated, would 
be planted as seed yams after two or three days, while the 
yams themselves would be distributed with the bananas. 
Every man contributes a share of his yams, but not all the 
yams which provide seed for the next crop are distributed at 
the koriko, nor are the yams which are given away necessarily 
the last of the year's crop. 

After much consideration by the old men, the teri were 
divided into smaller heaps called karoa, under the supervision 
of Taubada and Ahuia. To each karoa was added a quantity 
of yams, the heaps so constituted being distributed among the 
neighbouring Koita villages. Although of old the Motu would 
have received no karoa, an exception (in Hohodai) is nowa- 
days made in favour of the people of Hanuabada and Tanobada, 
because they are such near neighbours. They, however, do 
not make return karoa, as it is not a Motu custom, but %\.^^ 
Hohodai a present of sago. Eighteen karoa were made, of 
these Kilakila, Pari, Akorogo, Korabada, Guriu, Hanuabada 
and Tanobada received 17, one, it was said, was sent to the 
local Polynesian missionary, while the equivalent of two karoa 
were kept at Hohodai for consumption there. 

The karoa that were distributed were carried to their 
recipients' villages by Hohodai youths who left one karoa on 
the verandah of each of the iduhu rohi of those villages, where 
the bananas and yams would be cooked and eaten by the men 
of the village. At Hohodai the food reserved would be cooked 
on the verandah of the house in which Taubada and Ahuia 
live, and eaten by all the men of Hohodai. 

Plate XV represents a drawing by Ahuia of the koriko 
ceremony. The uprights represent sugar cane, the heaps of 
yams and bananas are sufficiently obvious, but I do not know 
the contents of the open pots, of the kind called 7iau, which 
are drawn by the side of the yams and bananas. As these 
pots are generally used to hold boiled vegetables, e.g. in 
mourning feasts, it seems reasonable to suppose that they 
contain cooked yams\ 

^ No sugar cane or boiled vegetables were distributed at the koriko seen 
in October 1904. 

144 ^^^^ Koita 


The hekarai is a feast, or more correctly a series of feasts, 
brought about by the deliberate rivalry of two men, each of 
such importance as to be able to secure the unqualified assist- 
ance of every man in his own iduhu, and so perhaps each of 
the two men is necessarily an iduhu roku The rivalry is, 
however, of a perfectly friendly nature, and there is no ani- 
mosity between either the protagonists or their followers. 
Hekarai are rare ; Ahuia could recall only one, that between 
Taubada and Hedu Ramika, the latter was iduhu rohi of 
Keakone idtihti of Hohodai village, as Taubada is of Dubara 
iduhu, and it was this hekarai that he had in his mind when 
giving the information, which with Captain Barton's assistance, 
has been elaborated into the following description. The pre- 
liminaries, as already noted, bear a striking resemblance to the 
preliminaries of a lakatoi equipment. One of the protagonists 
boasts that he has a better garden than his rival with more 
food in it. Early one morning, soon after his boast, the 
challenger descends from the platform of his house and sits on 
the ground in front of it, where he makes a little fire and 
smokes. He is called baditauna. The man who has been 
challenged has been on the look-out for this, and he comes 
and squats down by the fire. He is called doritauna. The 
adherents of both baditauna and doritauna muster, and join 
their leaders, and all smoke. For the next six days or so the 
baditauna and doritauna each make presents of food to the 
other on every possible occasion, it being each man's duty to 
make a return present as soon as possible similar in quantity 
and kind to that received. The food is given and received 
quite politely, and is eaten by the recipient and his family. On 
a given day, a series of vertical poles are erected along one 
side of the village street, and between these, at a height of 
six or eight feet from the ground, horizontal poles are lashed. 
This arrangement is called geva (M. eva). The rivals have 
meanwhile been collecting all the bananas possible from their 
own gardens and those of their friends. Since the greater 
part of the villagers on an occasion such as this espouse the 
cause of one of the rivals, practically all the bananas from the 
village gardens are requisitioned, and the villagers themselves 
are divided into two opposing parties. Each side begins to 









f^-l n 



— < 



. —' ', ^'^ 

;^ <^ 


tf ,•.■ 'v 









Plate XVII 




fu£?^//i euw 


■ 5#f/ 


. K^' 

Games preceding the tabu feast 

The Hekarai Ceremony 145 

hang its bananas at one end of the geva, and a mark is made 
where the bananas of each party end. The bananas are left 
upon the geva for one or two days. At night, the youths of 
each party watch their portion of the geva, because if they did 
not, their opponents would assuredly remove some of their 
bananas to their own part of the geva. At the time of the 
feast, each of the rivals collects all his bananas and sugar cane, 
and makes them into a huge pile, called tarirako, at one end 
of the village. The rivals exchange much valuable property, 
such as toia, doa and the string bags called kiapa, each 
straining every nerve to meet and out-do the other. No 
pigs are killed on this occasion, but hunting parties go out 
and bring in plenty of wallaby. 

If the two piles are adjudged even, the hekarai is finished, 
if not, another hekarai must be held, and it was stated that a 
number of hekarai might be held until the rivals provided an 
equal number of bananas, when the contest finished. Large 
numbers of yams are also heaped together by the rivals, and 
although only bananas are counted in determining whether 
the hekarai shall or shall not be final, it is etiquette for the 
man who provides the smaller number of yams to take an 
early opportunity of presenting his rival with a number of 
yams equal to the difference between their heaps. Plate XVI 
is one of two drawings of the hekarai feast sent by Ahuia. 
The resemblance of the streamers — which can scarcely be 
other than iduhu dagina (cf. page 51) — to certain of the 
pepe displayed on lakatoi (page 104) is very striking. The 
thickness of the pole or board on which the bananas are 
supported is not particularly noticeable in this drawing, 
which, allowing for the amount of decoration not mentioned 
by Ahuia, conforms to the account given by him. That 
this support is broad enough for men to stand upon, and 
that they do so at some part of the hekarai ceremonial, 
is, however, shown by the other drawing, which depicts a 
number of men on the support. 


When a tabu is suggested, the condition of the gardens is 
very thoroughly discussed in the village, and if it is deter- 
mined to give it, certain games, native drawings of which are 
shown in Plate XVII, are held. The first of these, veriabuto 

S. N. G. 10 

146 The Koita 

(M. keveH kanai), is a tug of war, men against women, but 
unfortunately I did not learn what steps, if any, were taken 
to render the contest a fair one. In the second game, bureka 
(M. libainaino), it appeared from the account given by Ahuia 
that sides were formed, each of which tried to push through 
the other \ Everyone took part in these games, even the 
idiihu rohi, but I could not learn that there was any difference 
in the amount of actual or ceremonial work for the tabu 
falling on the victors and vanquished in the bureka. 

Next day each woman of the village goes to her garden, 
and brings back a certain amount of food, which she cooks 
and gives to any man who is not a member of her family or 
closely connected by marriage. On the following day the 
men go fishing and hunting, each man giving his spoil to the 
woman who had given him vegetables the day before. The 
woman cooks this food, and the man and woman may eat it 
together, but it was stated that she generally eats it with her 
own family. 

A platform called pata (K. and M.), about the size of an 
ordinary house verandah, is then built under the direction of 
the tabu biagu, the manager or 'master' of the tabu. Probably 
'master' most nearly expresses his functions. It is his business 
to see that all goes well, to meet difficulties as they arise, to 
feed his helpers liberally, and, when necessary, to spare 
neither his own gardens nor those of his clansmen. He 
initiates the tahutahu, the borrowing of pigs, in which the 
whole village joins, which insures a worthy show of pork when 
the great day comes. To this end the villagers go round to 
their relations and friends of other iduhu and villages, and 
borrow as many young pigs as possible, which are brought 
back and carefully fattened. When the pata is built, the 

' I surmise that this is the game described as follows by the Rev, Dr Brown. 

"Then the natives had one of their own games, which they enjoyed, but which 

seemed to us a very rough one, though very pretty. First a lot of girls formed 
themselves into a compact body on the beach. This was supposed to represent a 
ship. They commenced singing, while the young men and boys went and provided 
themselves with small branches, which they waved over their heads, making 
a hissing noise, which was supposed to represent a gale of wind. Then, advancing _ 
from a distance of two or three hundred yards, they came on, gradually increasing ■ 
the pace, until they all rushed at once upon the interlocked body of girls with the 
object of breaking them apart, and so destroying the ship. The game then 
resembled a regular hard scrimmage at football. The girls stood firm for a while, 
but gradually the superior weight of the attacking force prevailed, and the ship was 

broken up The boys then formed the ship, and the girls represented the storm, 

but failed to break the ship, though for some time the issue was very doubtful." 
George Brown^ D.D.^ Pioneer Missiojiary and Explorer^ An Autobiography^ p. 470. 

The Tabti Feast 147 

villagers, regardless of clan, go to their gardens, dig yams, 
and cut down bananas. The former are boiled, and piled 
with the latter on \h^ pata. A number of men and unmarried 
girls ascend the pata^ among the men the tabu biagu. The 
girls on the pata always include daughters of the tabu biagu 
and other important men of the clan, as well as the daughters 
of the sisters of these men. Married women are not allowed 
on the pata. The unmarried girls, on the other hand, are 
necessary, or at least it is customary for them to be there. 
They stand with their feet almost still, as in the common 
Motu and Koita dance, and gently swing their petticoats 
from side to side as they flex and rotate their bodies from 
their hips. 

Care is taken to let the surrounding villages know when 
\h^ pata will be finished, so that when the food is piled on it 
there may be representatives in the crowd from each village. 
Then the tabu biagu calls out the name of the iduhu rohi of 
each clan in the friendly villages, and presents a bunch of 
bananas to the youths of that clan, who come forward and 
take charge of it. Such dances as vaura, konedoi and vaura- 
bada are then held, and many of the visitors join in them. 

This preliminary ceremonial practically amounts to a 
public intimation that a tabu will be held, and that the 
matter is well in hand. 

If the clan which is about to hold the tabu possesses a 
dubu in a good state of repair, the boards forming its platform 
are examined and perhaps renewed, so that it may stand 
unlimited stamping and dancing. If the dubu be considered 
old or unsuitable, a fresh one is built, and in every case a 
ladder similar to that leading into a house leads to the dubu 
platform. At times, a number of weak clans may unite to 
give a tabu as they may join to build a dubu. Things are 
always so arranged, a new dubu being built if necessary, 
that the dubu faces the direction of the iduhu or one of the 
iduhu not giving the tabu, but who it is expected will give or 
share in giving the next tabu^. 

The dubu itself is dressed and piled with food to its utter- 

^ Or perhaps in some cases the dubu should face toward the iduhu who gave the 
last tabu in the village. As a matter of fact tabu were when possible held 
alternately by the iduhu of the village, but iduhu so often joined for this purpose 
that the givers of the last past and the nearest future tabu are often the same folk. 
In some villages indeed this division into two feast-giving divisions is so marked as 
to lead to the idea of the existence of a dual grouping of the clans which subsequent 
experience does not confirm. 


148 The Koita 

most. Young trees are cut down, and their branches lopped, 
except a few which are cleaned and left at the top. These 
are planted round the diibu. A palisade of sugar cane is 
built round each tree, the canes being planted so closely 
together that a long cylindrical crate is formed round each 
tree trunk. These spaces are crammed with yams ; four or 
five bunches of bananas, and numerous coconuts, and panicles 
of areca nut are hung to the branches of each tree. Between 
the trees, great bundles of sugar cane lean against the dicbu, 
and other canes laid across the dubu horizontals form a sort of 
roof. Fishing nets full of yams and coconuts are piled under 
the dtibu, and bundles of sugar cane are erected on each side 
of the ladder leading on to the dubu platform, on which are 
heaped bunches of bananas. 

The native drawing of Gaibodubu (Plate XVIII), the old 
dubu of Dubara iduhu of Hohodai village does not do justice 
to the amount of food piled on and round the dubu, but Plate 
XIX, showing the new dubu at Pari prepared for the tabu 
held in 1904, will enable this to be appreciated\ 

On the morning of the feast pigs are killed on the ground 
near the dubu, cut up, and their flesh piled on the platform. 
This is done by the tabu biagu and his clansmen, who then 
wash in the sea preparatory to painting and ornamenting 
themselves. When fully decorated, they assemble on the 
dubu, and there eat a portion of pig flesh that has been 
specially cooked for them. 

Meanwhile members of the neighbouring villages collect 
in the bush around the village giving the feast, but they may 
not enter until a conch shell, called kibo, is blown. The men 
of each village keep more or less to themselves, and although 
the men are fully armed, fighting, which at this stage is 
contrary to etiquette, does not seem to have often occurred, 
even in the old days. The sound of the conch, which is blown 
on the dubu is the signal for the visitors to enter the village. 
In the old days, fights often arose at this time, though little 
damage appears to have resulted. As the visitors poured into 
the village beating drums and brandishing spears and clubs, 
they were met by a number of couples of men, each member 
of each couple holding one end of a bundle of sugar cane with 
which they knocked down the spears and clubs, as represented 

^ f'or this photograph, and that reproduced in Plate XX, I am indebted to 
Mr G. O. Manning. 

->/•; 3i. 







■ A> --i ■ ' / 





Native drawing of dubu prepared for the tabu 


Piale .Will 


^ G-IDU 





:o>nu ceremony is shown on the extreme right 

Plate XIX 

The dubu at Pari dressed for the tabu feast 

Plate XX 

Women with yams at the tabu feast 

The Tabic Feast 149 

in Plate XVIII. It was not considered good form to continue 
hostile demonstrations after the men with sugar cane had been 
through the crowd. Behind these men came a number of 
women swinging their petticoats, and bearing a large yam in 
each hand which they presented to the idichu rohi, and to the 
other important men of the visiting villages. The beginning 
of this part of the ceremony is shown in Plate XX. During 
the entry of the visitors, girls who are game, 7iana or roro to 
the tabu biaguna have climbed the dubu posts, and standing on 
the horizontals (as in Plate XVIII) or clinging to the carved 
capitals, with their feet on the collar or ledge carved below 
the capital, briskly swing their petticoats. In the old days 
when the dicbti were sometimes extremely massive, temporary 
platforms on which the girls stood were at times built round 
the capitals. 

The men of the feast-giving clan or clans sit quietly on 
the dtibu while their visitors enter the village, and as the 
excitement subsides squat round the dubu where they all 
chew and smoke. Presently the tabu biaguna calls from the 
djtbu to the women of the visitors to gather round the dubu. 
His clansmen then descend and fill their visitors' big string 
bags (kiapa) with yams which have been stored in the houses 
for this purpose. This is called gidu (K. and M.), and it is a 
point of honour to fill the bag of each visitor to overflowing \ 
After this the women stand aside or squat on the verandahs, 
and the feast-givers again mount the dubu. The idtchu rohi 
and the grown men among the visitors are now presented 
with food, each receiving a piece of pork tied to a bunch of 
bananas, which is lowered at the end of a piece of rope, as the 
recipient's name is called. The men take no notice of their 
presents, which are carried away by youths of their clan. 
After this, joints of pork are similarly tied to lengths of fishing 
net containing yams. These also are let down at the end of 
pieces of rope, but for these each man's name is called thrice, 
the bundle of food not being let down low enough for it to 
be reached from the ground until the third cry. This time 
they are easily taken, and when every adult has received his 
share his women carry it back to his village, and the dancing 

1 A somewhat diagrammatic representation of this part of the ceremony is 
shown in the native drawing, Plate XVIII. In reality the women squat all round 
the dubu, and the fillmg of their bags by the hosts is an extremely brisk and 
lively process. 

150 The Koita 

begins. Two small feasts limited to the clan or clans giving 
the tabu take place after it. The first is held the day after 
the visitors have left, when the men of the clan giving the 
tabu have a small feast. The lower jaws of the pigs killed at 
the tabuy which have been specially reserved for this purpose, 
are eaten on the dubu. The second feast is held when the 
ciub2c decorations and the supports of the remaining yams, 
coconuts and sugar-cane are taken down. This feast is held 
on the verandah of the tabu biaguna ; both men and women 
take part in it, but it is not held till a supply of wallaby 
and wild pig-flesh has been obtained. 



Dancing takes place at almost all feasts, and most dances 
are accompanied by songs and the beating of drums or the 
thudding of dancing sticks and the shaking of rattles. These 
rattles are made of the seeds of Pangium edule and are often 
tied to the dancing sticks, while small wooden gongs, called 
sede, take the place of drums in the dances associated with 
the hiri. Dancing is not limited to ceremonial occasions, 
and the majority of the Koita dances are not obviously pan- 
tomimic and, according to their exponents, are not imitative 
or memorial in intention. Many dances may be performed 
at any time, and for amusement only, but I believe that 
certain dances seldom take place except on the appropriate 
occasions, to which, according to general feeling, they should 
be restricted. Indeed it seems that at one time, before the 
spread of white influence, particular dances may have been 
less freely and commonly danced than at the present day. 

The majority of dances are accompanied by special songs, 
and songs appropriate to particular occasions are grouped 
together to form classes, which have definite names. 

Such songs are usually sung together, or used on like 
occasions, though one or more of these may be regularly used 
for some other and different purpose. Songs are generally 
identified by their first few words, from which both dances 
and songs are often named, thus a particular song of the 
class berasi is known by its first word Iruregaio. 

Both songs and dances are strictly copyright, and In the 
old days the unauthorised use of a song or dance might have 
led to war. The only legitimate manner for people to obtain 
the right to a dance or song not their own was to buy It, 
as the folk of Hohodai village bought the right to use the 
song maginogo. 

152 The Koita 

Four generations ago, Abau Rohi, grandfather of Taubada, 
when visiting the then Yarogaha village on the hill above 
the present Hohodai site, saw this dance and was so greatly 
impressed by it, that he asked the Yarogaha chief, Keta 
Vahu, to visit his village and teach his folk the dance and 
song. After some discussion this was agreed to, Keta Vahu 
being handsomely paid in axe blades, pearl shells, arm rings 
and boar tusks for sharing his right to perform the dance 
with the Hohodai people. 

The names of the different classes of songs are : 

Berasi — songs sung while fencing gardens, also sung as dirges. 

Ehona (M.) — Lakatoi songs, learnt from the Motu by the Koita, sung on lakatoi^ 
also sung by the Motu as dirges. As these songs have been borrowed by the 
Koita and are only sung by them in connection with the hiri, the annual 
trading journey to the Papuan Gulf, they are given at the end of the account 
of the hiri on pp. 1 16 to 118. 

Vaura — vaura^ vaurabada, gerukome^ konedoi sung at dances and feasts especially 
at the tabu feast. 

Maginogo, maisi and bago are songs which are not classed with any of the above. 
Maisi is sung at the funeral feast ita^ at hekarai and as a dance song. 
Maginogo is sung at the funeral feast turia, at hekarai and as a dance song 
for some months after a death. Bago is sung by homicides (cf. p. 130). 

The origin of most of the songs is utterly obscure, and 
the words for the most part unintelligible. A few songs are 
however of recent invention. Taubada remembered Keta 
Morata, the composer of the song Ogonimabia, as an old 
greyheaded man when he was a little boy. The Vaura 
group of songs are said to have travelled up the coast from 
the east, their words do not resemble modern Koita. 

Maisi and the berasi song iruregaio are said to come from 
Idu ; maginogo traditionally comes from Koma, cf. p. 44. 

Berasi. The meaning of Iruregaio is entirely unknown ; 
it goes : Iruregaiyo ninivaiyo wabu mageta reremo ro gaiyu 
sorure gaiyo ninivayo taitau mageta gosigorogaio. 

The following song Irimabera is sung when fencing a 
garden, but only when the singer or singers have passed the 
preceding night with a girl. When sung as a dirge it does 
not imply recent cohabitation. With each word is given what 
was stated to be its meaning in the song; iri is the Koita 
sunblind, made of dried banana leaves which makes a 
comfortable mattress. 

Irimabera yaganuyo 
(on an; iri we sleep (on) 

another iri 

we sleep 

n oikegin uegore 

we with somebody (on an) 


we sleep 




we with girls (on a) 

bed of iri 

(on) another pile 

we sleep 

we sleep 

irima behi 
we sleep tog 

kaihu kaihu 

we sleep in couples 

we sleep 

we sleep. 

we sleep 

behi behi 

we sleep in couples 

we sleep 

gabuma kaihu 
we sleep together 

Another berasi song, ogonimabiay was made by a Yawai 
boy, who on his return from an assignation with a girl of 
Ogoni village was overtaken by a storm. 

an Ogoni girl 

road from Ogoni 


the south-easterly rain 

heavy rain 

sent a message 


go by that road 

rain falls 

a. heavy rainfall. 

(to) a young Venehako man 

rain fell 

rain falls heavily 

Vaura. My informants could attach no meaning to the 
following songs belonging to the vaura group ; they were said 
to have come from the East, but whether up the coast or 
inland, was quite uncertain. It is said that the words of 
which they consist are not Koita and do not even resemble 
that language. 

Gerukome : Gerukome koma yoweyauwa pasiyauwa reye gerukojne 

Gerukoine kome obukome obukome koine yewaauwa madpreauwa beyo 

Obukojne obukotne koine. 
Vaura: i. Vaura kira yereivaiori kekevakira gamiinaiyori 

Vereuenagi bonaruago nekwatunagi bonoritago 

Ruago ritago. 

2. Guninagoia mairigimo gimo sebainu gosi gosi guninagoia sinaugurena 
Gabamureva sebamutura beriegaba weawagitu nomurabta 

Gaba nonibene vanigumiro 

3. Mainoseri varoyagara geinugarai 
Gediimukapa varinagewa boromatugu 
Botauguya yawaguyo tagunabeiia 

4. Vanigemu geguyamore vanigemu yegusiago 
Diroyabora turoguyamu taborokuni inataguyamo 
Yaunebari yaunebari 

Kipiriporu porutaia iregas kaparaporu 

Porutaia irorae kipiriporuta 

Kaparaporiita nama?tagoroaiya kerukeke raiyano kekeraiiano 

Maisi rnaiteiiwa rawauenaia maiteuwa 

Maiteu raukere rokaia yainu ovenio 

Marere maiteu rauhero rohaia kouko venio marere. 

154 The Koita 

Bago. Vasese o vaoru rai e rikoroape vasese vaoru raw 
Vasese o vaoru rai o ii>ainaiape vaoru raio 
Vasese o vaoru raio Karama ape casese vaoru raio 
Kakaraia kakaraia e kuna?na kutna aiainu kunamana 
Kukureke kukureke o Revana viro revana viro 
Kawa 7iiro j/iakana kuku reke kukureke o 
Konevabada avaunage morana eko vaia rave raia rave 
Nave veie nape vori a paparuna napevorio sie vori e paparu7ia. 

Mr S. H. Ray has kindly looked through these songs 
concerning which he says : 

'Be7'asi\ cf. Toaripiy"^r^z sing, «^^/ grow/ 

' Bago ; some words seem to show the Toaripi past tense 
in ape, and paparu-na and mora-na suggest the Toaripi mora 
leg and papere moon ; nave in the last line suggests the 
Namau nava a fish.' 

' Irimabera ; yaga sleep, nu ending of present or indefinite 
tense, gore a suffix meaning " with," noi or noihe we/ 

^ Ogonimabia) guma occurring in ogoniguma means **road." 
Of the last five words, only two contain the word vent meaning 

The movements of the Koita dances are generally slow, 
the dancers commonly moving with short prancing steps in 
parallel columns, which extend laterally, keeping their distance 
apart, or more rarely alternately advancing and receding. 
Small groups often detach themselves from the main parallel 
rows, and stand at right angles a few paces apart, or from 
this distance advance towards the parallel columns following 
these up as they retreat before them. Men and unmarried 
girls take part in the dances, in all of which the most perfect 
rhythm is maintained. The men only beat drums or carry 
dancing sticks. Some idea of the precision of their motions 
can be gathered from the fact that not only do the fingers 
of each man rest on his drum in the same position, but in 
instantaneous photographs they seem to exert the same 
amount of pressure on each tympanum. The rhythm of 
these dances is further exemplified by the movements of the 
girl dancers, which consist essentially of a slow rocking of the 
pelvis on the thighs, each leg being alternately slightly flexed 
and the heel being lifted from the ground. At the same time 
the muscles of the back give a rotatory movement to the 
pelvis causing the petticoat to swish from side to side. When 
dancing in columns, the movement is usually slow and dignified, 
but when one or two girls dance by themselves behind, or at 



the side of the columns, it is customary for them to dance so 
violently, that the component strips of the petticoat tied over 
the right hip, fly up in a spray of fibres, allowing the tattoo 
on the buttock and thighs to be seen. In a general way 
these dances of the Koita accompanied by drums resemble 
the dandes of the Motu, but those which are danced to the 
accompaniment of bamboo dancing sticks, appear to be 
unlike any dances known to the Motu. 

Maginogo was the most popular of the bamboo dances 
with the Hohodai Koita, indeed this was frequently danced 
for a couple of hours in the afternoon, and was the only one 
of their own dances that I saw them perform spontaneously, 
though Koita often joined in the dances got up for amusement 
by the Motu. 


Of all the songs mentioned to me by name, it was only 
possible to obtain a story of origin for maginogo, which is 
now regarded as the dance song of the Yarogaha section. 
It has already been stated that, according to legend, the 
ancestors of the Yarogaha and Gorobe sections of the Koita 
originally inhabited a giant erimo tree in the neighbourhood 
of Nebira, that is. Saddleback Hill, a few miles from Port 
Moresby. Within this tree the song maginogo was invented 
by the men of the Gorobe section, the Yarogaha dance song 
at that time being one known as mada^. For some reason 
these sections exchanged dances, so that mada came to belong 
to Gorobe, while maginogo became Yarogaha property. 
Legend states that within the tree maginogo was sung without 
any accompaniment such as drums or bamboo dancing staffs, 
but when it was danced outside, it was felt that some 
accompaniment was required. In vain were drums and sede 
tried, then two sticks were beaten together, and it was only 
when all these devices had failed that a Yarogaha suggested 
bamboo staffs, which were tried, and proved satisfactory. 

The dance maginogo begins with the formation of two 
parallel columns in which men and women as far as possible 
alternate, though more males than females took part in the 
particular dance seen. Two men (A) stand a few paces from 
one end of the columns which they face, the dancers in the 
two columns (B) standing at right angles to these men though 

^ In Koita this word has no meaning, but in Motu it signifies bandicoot. 

156 The Koita 

facing each other as in figure 11. Group A advances toward 
group B which moves sideways to meet A. When A reaches 
B the two men part, each passing up one side of the parallel 
columns, the members of which follow in series. Sometimes 
the two men (A) pass one behind each of the parallel columns, 
at other times they do not separate but pass together between 

^-» T y T V T 'J' T 

<H3 <^-#^-0 t-« <-0 '^-# 
® ® 

♦-^ •-» •-^ <K3 ^-# <0<-#-e-0 -^-# 

A. 3. © 

Fig. II. Vi\2Jgx2S^ oi maginogo. 

the columns. Whichever manoeuvre is adopted, all the 
dancers follow the ' A ' man who initiates the movement, until 
two columns are formed in which each dancer stands facing 
his neighbour's back, when a half turn inward brings the 
dancers into two parallel columns facing each other again. 
Then, after some moments' dancing, i.e. singing and stamp- 
ing of bamboos, the terminal members of one end of the 
two columns pass inwards, and accompanied by some of their 
neighbours, pass down the whole length of the columns the 
members of which again follow these men round until, as 
above described, two parallel lines are again formed. 


Plate XXI 



II ';. 





The tahaka figure of the dance maginogo 


















Maginogo i^^'^ 

In another figure three rows of three men advance 
between two parallel columns which face each other. When 
the front row of three has reached the end of these columns, 
all halt and vigorously stamp their bamboos upon the ground. 

Variants of these figures are repeated again and again, 
until at the end the bowl figure tahaka takes place. This 
part of the dance is represented by the native drawing 
reproduced in Plate XXI. 

Concerning the origin of the bowl figure the following 
story is told. 

One day a man, whose name has been forgotten, was 
working in his garden, covering the young bananas with 
dry leaves to protect them from fiying foxes. On his way 
back to the village he saw a stone, afterwards named Eyamune, 
with an oval depression in it, resembling one of the wooden 
food bowls, called dihu. This hollow was full of peculiarly 
clear still water; he drank some, and washed his hands in 
the remainder, a portion of which he splashed over his body. 
He then combed his hair, sat down, and made a song about 
this incident. On returning to his village, he found his people 
dancing; he did not join them, but when they had ceased, he 
told them what he had seen, and the song he had composed 
about it. This story and song so pleased them that it was 
added to the dance, and maginogo thus acquired its most 
striking figure. 

Plate XXII is a portion of a drawing of Eyamune sent 
me by Ahuia. Unfortunately no account was forwarded with 
the drawing so that the significance of the dark areas is not 
certain, but presumably they are patches of jungle and streams 
on the hill side. As danced in Hohodai the bowl figure 
began by a number of dancers arranging themselves as in 
the lowest diagram of figure 1 1. The four end men of 
group A took a pot with some water in it (which as far as 
I remember was brought them from one of the houses) and 
placed it on the ground at t, at the side of, and a little 
distance from, group B ; they laid their bamboos on the 
ground by the bowl, and moving in a squatting position 
around it, splashed its contents over themselves. The bowl 
was then taken to x and the figure repeated, the bowl bearers 
then passed to j^ and again repeated the figure before finishing 
the dance by passing out between the parallel columns of 
group B. This dance was seen on more than one occasion 

158 The Koita 

and each time minor differences in the action, order, and 
number of the figures were noted. 

Besides magmogo there are other dances performed with 
bamboo staffs; two of these dances are called aume yado 
and kwikzvz respectively, the former was danced on the 
occasion of the ' durbar ' of the tribes of the Central Division 
arranged by Captain Barton in 1904. 




When a Koita dies, messengers belonging to the dead 
man's local group are sent to his relations, both Kolta and 
Motu, In all the neighbouring villages. These come to the 
dead man's village without painting or decorating themselves 
In any way, and Immediately on arrival proceed to the dead 
man's house, where they ' kiss ' his face, I.e. they touch his 
face with their noses, but do not Inspire as they do when 
* kissing' the living. 

Soon after the death, a younger brother, or falling him the 
henamo of the deceased prepares the corpse for exposure on 
the death chair, bisa. The face and pubes are shaved, and 
a new sihi Is put on. The face Is oiled by being rubbed with 
grated coconut and decorated with lines of red paint, reaching 
from either lower eyelid outwards and backwards to the angle 
of the jaw and to the ear, as well as from the edge of the 
scalp In the middle line to the tip of the nose. Through the 
hole In the nasal septum Is placed a nose ornament oi garahota 
wood, on both arms are shell armlets, round the neck strings 
of tautau, and pendant on the breast Is hung the boar's tusk 
ornament doa ; ga7ia encircle the leg just below the knee, and 
above the ankle, and are also slipped on the upper arm. 
Meanwhile the corpse has been lying on Its back on a mat, 
in the house, its head supported In the lap of the widow, who 
sits with one leg extended on either side of the corpse. Men 
and women surround the corpse, and watch and wail during 
the night, and sing as dirges the songs maginogo and maisi, 
as well as any vaura or berasi^. Wailing Is kept up all night, 
during this time no one may eat, though smoking Is allowed. 
At sunrise the wailing stops, and the visitors disperse to their 

^ Cf. pp. 152, 153. For a dead Motu, the lakatoi songs ehona would be sung. 

i6o The Kotta 

houses for rest and food, friends from other villages eating on 
the verandah of the dead man's house, being invited to do 
so by the widow. After this the dead man's nana, roro, and 
iha make the bisa or death chair, which consists of a rough 
wooden framework of about the height of an ordinary 
European chair, and so arranged as to support the body in 
a sitting posture. The plank which forms the seat of the bisa 
is long enough to seat three people, so that in reality a rough 
bench is prepared, as is shown in Plate XXIII. The corpse 
is carried to the bisa, which is generally, but a few paces 
distant from the house of the deceased, by folk who may be 
of any iduJm so long as they are not closely related to the 
dead man. The deceased is placed in the centre of the bisa, 
his wife sitting on the bisa on his right side, and his eldest 
sister on his left : if he had two wives, one would sit on each 
side, the sister squatting on the ground at the feet of the 
corpse. Villagers and friends form a half circle facing the 
bisa, and for about an hour beat drums and sing dirges, after 
which the dead man is carried back to his house by the men 
who bore him to the bisa, his head on both occasions being 
steadied by his eldest brother. With certain exceptions, the 
dead man's chief possessions, all carefully broken, are ar- 
ranged by the side of the bisa ; the centre of the bundle 
thus formed consists of broken spears thrust into the ground 
around which the other articles of property are wrapped and 
tied. The whole is called tobi, and presents the appearance 
of an unusually large faggot, standing upright. Plate XXIII, 
is a photograph taken at Guriu by Captain Barton of the 
bisa and tobi of one Maigo and in this photograph the con- 
stitution of the tobi is well seen. The actual objects noted 
were spears, arrows, bows, a bamboo pipe, a netting needle, 
a dancing staff of bamboo called ageru, coconut drinking cups, 
a drum, koda and dakwai, nets for stopping the rush of a pig 
and catching mullet respectively, and a couple of broken pots'. 
All these were so thoroughly broken as to be quite useless, 
but the dead man's bible — a mission has been established in 
Poreporena for 25 years — which entered into the composition 
of the tobi had not been torn up. Valuable personal orna- 

* The broken objects enumerated were collected when the tobi was destroyed, 
and with the exception of the pots which were smashed in transit, have been 
mounted as nearly as possible in their original position in the British Museum, in 
one of the wall cases of the ethnographical gallery. 








Plate XXIV 



Exposure of corpse on bisa 

Death and Mourning Ceremonies i6i 

merits and such costly nets as that called reke appear to have 
always been excluded from the tobi. 

Plate XXIV is a native drawing of a bisa ; in the original, 
the alternate feathers of the feather ornament on the head 
of the corpse are coloured red, as are the lines of paint on 
the face. The object to the side of the bisa is a papaw tree 
(Caric a papaya) in fruit, on the opposite side of the bisa there 
is drawn a disproportionately small tobi attached to the 
uprights of which a drum and two nets can be recognized. 
Three of the women are represented as wiping away their 
tears, and the man on the left in the foreground has just lit 
a baubau\ in the original illustration the glowing end of the 
brand in his right hand is indicated by a patch of red colour. 

A tobi is made for a married man, a married woman and 
an unmarried male if adult, but not for an unmarried girl 
or a child. 

After the body has been carried back to the house, the 
dead man's sister removes all the ornaments from the corpse 
with the exception of the gana and nose ornament. The siJii 
is also left undisturbed. The ornaments removed are placed 
in a string bag, of the kind called kiapa, and will eventually 
be divided among his near relatives. The corpse is again 
* kissed' by everyone present, and is then lifted on to a new 
mat in which it is tightly rolled, the bundle so formed being 
roped to a pole longer than itself for convenience of carriage. 

Meanwhile the grave has been dug, this may be done by 
anyone, the diggers receiving a present of food to which each 
man establishes his claim by giving to one of the dead man's 
nana or roro (usually a brother) a piece of stick which the 
latter collects into a bundle and keeps as a tally. Any men 
not nearly related to the dead man may bear him to his 
grave, but the bearers give place to others at almost every 
other pace, since the body is now highly aina. Ahia is used 
in this instance to indicate a contagious quality which is 
harmful to those in contact with it, but the danger of which 
is lessened by shortening the time of exposure to its influence. 

Formerly people were buried in the village in front of 
their houses. This was done because ' man no like pig and 
dog, take him [i.e. pig or dog] long way from village, must 
bury him in street.' For the first four nights after a burial, 
i.e. till the feast venedairi has been held, fires were lit on and 
round the grave, around which the dead man's wife and near 

S. N. G. II 

1 62 The Koita 

relatives slept. His other relatives and friends slept in his 
house. This, called ahatabtcbu (M. tauhalo) was said to be 
done as a sign of sympathy with the widow left alone by 
reason of her husband's death. Now that the government 
insists on burial in a recognized graveyard remote from the 
village, the grave is lightly thatched over to keep off the rain, 
and no one sleeps on or near it, but all the relatives sleep in 
the dead man's house. This change is due partly to govern- 
ment influence, and partly to fear, ' too much he 'fraid long 
way from village.' 


On the first or second day succeeding a burial, a feast 
Bozua (M. Powa) is held. Members of all the iduhu cook in 
their own houses as much vegetable food as they can spare 
and place it on the ground in front of the dead man's house. 
His friends and relatives from other villages also contribute 
food, so that a large amount is collected. His nana and roro, 
having first paid the grave diggers, send a portion of the 
food to the iduhu rohi of other iduhu, and divide the rest 
among those present. 


On the fourth day after burial a much more important 
feast venedairi (M. lahidaili) takes place. Until this, fires 
have burned nightly on the grave round which the dead man's 
wife and nearest relatives formerly slept. It did not appear 
that any individual fire was kept burning for the whole four 
days, but that the fires were lit nightly, as people gathered 
round the grave. 

The dead man's clansmen collect and cook a large quantity 
of food which is deposited in front of the house of the 
deceased. Much of this is given to the men who dug the 
grave and carried the corpse to it, that is to say the greater 
part is distributed among those who have helped in the death 
ceremonies, the remainder being eaten by the other men 
present. After this the dead man's brother's wife blackens 
the widow from head to foot, and her head is shaved. 

The dead man's coconut shell spoon [bedi), his comb 
(geni), and his lime gourd [popou) are broken, and fragments 
of these, together with his armlets [gana), his perineal band, 

Death and Mourning Ceremonies 


and Jocks of his hair (carefully preserved for this purpose 
when cut during life) are made into small bark cloth parcels, 
and worn by the widow round her neck. Nowadays this 
custom is falling into disuse, but the outside of this ceremonial 
object, buibul^xs still sometimes thickly set with trade beads //a/iw* 
represented in the old days by the more valuable drilled shell 
discs called ageva. 

Bidbui are extremely difficult to get, figure 12 is a 


Fig. 12. Collar made of dead man's perineal band. 

drawing of one collected by Captain Barton and now in the 
British Museum. The thick part, which goes round the neck, 
consists of the dead man's perineal band wrapped in bark 
cloth, to this his lime gourd, an armlet and the handle of his 
coconut shell spoon are attached, as well as three small bark 
cloth bundles of hair. Besides this the widow wears a 
petticoat reaching to her ankles, and a frondet of beads, 
made of the seeds of Coix lachry7nae, from which pendants of 
coix beads reaching her shoulders hang in front of each ear. 


164 The Koita 

On her body she should wear two netted vests called yarasz, 
one above the other, the outer being ornamented with cotx 
seeds, and Eclectics and cockatoo feathers. On her head she 
should wear a network cap similarly ornamented, which is also 
called jK<^r^^/. The habit of \Ne'ds\xi<g yarasi has for some years 
been in abeyance, though the other mourning customs are for 
the most part faithfully followed. Plate XXV represents a 
widow in full mourning costume, in the original drawing many 
of the Eclectus feathers attached to the yarasi are indicated 
by red chalk marks. For six months the widow wears her 
mourning ornaments ; during this time she may show herself 
but little in public, she should not speak much or loudly, 
neither may she walk along the main village street nor leave 
her house by the front verandah. There are no cooking or 
fire taboos on the widow, but she and all other relatives of 
the dead man must abstain from such articles of food as he 
specially cared for until after the feast, called ita, some six 
months later. 

I am Indebted to Captain Barton for information which 
seems to show, that in addition, a number of folk abstain from 
various articles of food, In order to have a big supply at the 
ita feast. Captain Barton's translation of an account written 
for him In Motu is as follows : * To some people, food is 
sacred by reason of the man's death. At the time of 
assembling... some resolve (to abstain) from eating yams, 
some from bananas, some from pork, some from wallaby, some 
from fish, some from coconut, some from sugar-cane, some 
from tobacco. This Is done in order that they may be able to 
bring together plenty of the sacred^ food when the feast is 
held. After that they can eat as they please regardlessly.' 
The only point that Is not absolutely clear, is whether this 
abstinence begins at the time of the venedairi, though I 
think there Is no reasonable doubt of this. 

For the six months between the venedairi and the ita 
(M. turia) any one of the dead man's clansmen, who kills a pig 
or wallaby, or catches a big fish, or In whose garden a specially 
good bunch of bananas ripens, will bring the food to the bisa, 
where it will be hung for a while, then cooked by men, but 
not by women, and eaten In front of the bisa by men of 
any clan. 

After the bananas have been cooked, the stripped haulms 

^ Presumably helaga corresponding to the Koita aina. 

Plate XXV 


■> 4 

' i/J': : 



Koita widow 

Plate XXVI 

I V. 




^:. \ 




L ""'■ " 



■-,\ * 





--J.; ' 


The robumomomo ceremony 

Death and Moiirnijig Ceremonies 165 

(a number of these haulms are to be seen in Plate XXIII) 
or in the case of the pig the lower jaw, will be left hanging 
on the transverse pole above the seat of the bisa. 


At the end of about six months, that is approximately 
the time required for a banana crop to ripen, the ita feast 
is held. The dead man's kinsmen, viz. raimic, 7iana, rorC, oj(i.[»».u. 
j)^^, siba, and the relatives of the widow collect as many i^m .ic\. J 
vams and bananas as thev can. the mass of these are made 
into a number of piles in front of the dead man's house, 
each pile being topped by some green coconuts. It appeared 
that each pile was composed of food presented by two 
persons, and it is certain that a great part, if not the whole 
of this food, is presented by the folk who undertook to 
abstain from special articles of food at the veriedairi feast. 
Some of the bananas and yams are boiled and placed in 
open pots {7iau) by the side of the heaps. The number of 7iau 
put by the side of each heap varies from four to ten. A 
little later, after the heaps have been inspected and appreciated 
by every one, the men who have provided them distribute 
the food among the relatives. But the most important part 
of the ita is the robiirnomorno (M. wabickzuadaia) ceremony, 
by which the widow is relieved of her mourning. The dead 
man's brother's wife, and often his sister, go into his house, 
carrying a clean petticoat of the ordinary pattern which 
the widow now assumes. Thev then lead the widow down 
the house ladder to the side of the piles of food, where they 
strip off her mourning ornaments, and, taking a number of 
green coconuts from the pile, open them one after another, 
pouring their water over the widow and rubbing her down, 
thus removing the black pigment. After this the widow 
returns to the house ; the bisa is burnt but the tobi is not 
yet destroyed\ 

Plate XXVI is a drawing of the robumomomo ceremony. 
The attendant women are about to remove the widow's 
yarasi. One of them holds a half coconut in her hand, the 
other a brush with which to remove the pigment. The objects 
in front of the group represent piles of vegetables. About 

^ The mourning petticoat worn by the widow until this ceremony is burnt about 

this time, but I cannot say whether this is done privately or at the feast. 

1 66 The Koita 

a month after the ita, the dead man's clansmen go out hunting ; 
when a pig or kangaroo is caught, it is brought to the village 
and left hanging in the dead man's house over night. In the 
morning a clansman places two or three bunches of bananas 
on the dead man's verandah. A couple of clansmen cut up 
the pig or wallaby, peel the bananas, and boil the mess in a 
large pot on the ground. When cooked, the food is turned 
into a big dish on the dead man's verandah, where it is eaten 
by the villagers, including the dead man's clansmen, but not 
his near relatives. When the food is finished, the dead man's 
brother makes some such speech as this : ' We have been 
eating for and in remembrance of the dead, now let us worry 
no more about him since he has ceased from among us.' The 
tobi is then cast into the bush at the border of the village, 
where it speedily rots. 

The complete costume of a man mourning for his wife 
is now never worn in the Port Moresby villages where the 
widower is usually content with blackening himself all over. 
In the old days cassowary feathers were worn, as well as a 
special form of headgear from which a long pendant hung 
down the widower's back. 




It is probably no longer possible to obtain an accurate 
account of the more esoteric portion of Koita sorcery and 
the magic that accompanied or was allied to it. That the 
Motu believe, or believed, that the Koita had the power of 
exorcising certain malevolent agencies seems clear, while 
perhaps the Koita have, or had, the same belief about the 
Koiari. It did not seem that the Koita were generally 
credited with producing pestilence, or even with causing 
individual cases of sickness, but there is no doubt that in the 
case of sickness a Motu would generally send for a Koita 
man, or more often woman, to treat him. This was generally 
done by charms, and a big fee would often be paid. In 1898 
a woman, with a considerable reputation as a sorcerer, was 
given three baskets of yams, a fishing net, and ten shillings 
to cure a man who was not very sick. Her method was to 
pass a charm three times round the patient's head and body, 
muttering incantations the while\ Romilly has described at 
length the treatment of a child, in which the singing of 
incantations to exorcise a malevolent spirit was combined with 
massage and suction, terminating with the extraction from the 
patient of a number of foreign bodies. ' She (the sorceress) 
...made her appearance clothed in the dress of the country, 
and bearing round her neck a small bag of charms. Im- 
mediately she commenced operations, and at the first sound of 
her voice a great silence fell over the whole village.. ..The 
incantation finished, she made some passes over the child, 
which seemed to have the effect of sending it to sleep.... After 
this... she suddenly produced the barbed point of a spear,... 

1 This charm, shown in Plate XXVI, figure i, consists of the small carved coco- 
nut-box from the Papuan Gulf which had been split in half. The two halves were 
tied together and reddened. 

1 68 The Koita 

from the child's body, and shortly afterwards a large stone... 
was produced in the same way. She next extracted several 
mouths-full of blood which she spat out on the floor. It 
looked like blood, but was, I believe, chewed betel nut. 
In a bona fide performance the spirit at this period should 
have entered into her, and no one would have dared to remain 
in the house. She would finally, during one of her con- 
vulsions, have rolled off the house into the salt water, and the 
spirit would then have departed. This last part we took for 
granted, as she said she was not now a " Papalau " woman and 
the spirit would not come to her\' The incantation was in 
'an almost or quite obsolete form of the Koitapuan dialectl' 
It was translated into Motu by the sorceress, and thence into 
English by Chalmers : 

* There are three spirits appealed to. The first is Devase, 
the second Horumagi, and the third, a female spirit, Vagana- 
magi. All got hold of the woman, and they insisted that she 
should speak. She put her fingers in both ears, and then 
on her eyelids, and she spoke. She then forbade all people 
from inland being near, and she prayed, *' Inland people 
(spiritual) forbidden, inland people (spirits) forbidden, spirits 
of the grass forbidden," and she then says : '' I alone open 
myself, my stomach, I now open, and now the prayer comes 
my stomach being opened." When she has finished that, she 
then makes the sick one sacred, and she herself eats some 
food provided by the people of the house where the sickness 
is, and for eight nights she may drink no water, only coco- 
nuts. She eats no fish, and at the end she is sacred. Then 
the spirit says ''stand up," and she does it, and calls the name 
of the spirit Devase. She then cries out '' Devase, come 
come ; Devase, come, oh ! come to this house." The spirit 
answers "swing, oh! swing the rami (petticoat) at once," 
and she says "Swing, yes swing, and swing in this house 
does Devase's wife," and repeats it several times. When 
she has finished she descends to the road, and then she 
blesses the house, and says, *' I bless the house, with my 
hands I bless it, with my presence I bless it, when you fish 
be blessed, when you seek turtle or dugong be blessed, and 
when you fish for all kinds be blessed." Then she praises 
Devase and says to all the people, " Come quick, come quick, 
oh! Devase, come quick. In the darkness come quick your 

^ From my Verandah^ pp. 91, 92. ^ Op. cit. p. 94. 

Sorcery 169 

wife calls you to come. Come all, come quick, come to this 
house." The sorceress and spirit Devase then ascend to 
the house. The sorceress partakes of food prepared by the 
people, and the spirit teaches the woman (sorceress) what she 
is to say. When standing over a sick person she says 
'' Return oh spirit, return ! {repeat nine times). Enter this 
person again. Come, oh ! come, come, oh ! come {repeat six 
times). Enter this person again." She then strikes her foot 
with force on the floor, and sits down to mesmerise the body, 
and says : '' Away sickness, away sickness {repeat four times) ; 
open eyes, open eyes {repeat four times).'' She then strikes on 
the floor with her hands, and the spirit of life returns and the 
sick one is better^' 

In this, as in all Romilly's accounts of spirit invocation, 
there is a certain vagueness which is increased by his lack of 
distinction between what he saw and what he was told. 

It seems, however, that the object of the incantation was 
essentially to restore the wandering sica (M. lauma) to its 
owner. But it appears that before an incantation could be 
effectual it was necessary for both the sorceress and her 
patient to become 'sacred,' doubtless aina (M. helaga), and 
that to produce this result one or more spirits were invoked. 
Of these, Devase apparently became immanent in the 
sorceress, who alludes to herself as the wife of Devase, and 
it is apparently only by his presence and aid that she is 
able to conjure the missing sua (called by Romilly ' spirit ' or 
' spirit of life ') back into the sick individual. It does not 
appear to me that the words ' away sickness ' towards the 
end of the incantation necessarily imply that the sickness is 
looked upon as an actual entity, or due to the entrance into 
the body of a definite spiritual agency. Apart from the 
question of translation, it were vain to expect a strictly 
logical pathology or therapeusis in the stone age. In fact 
it was clear that two aetological beliefs co-existed. The 
account of the removal of foreign bodies already quoted 
shows that they were considered capable of causing disease, 
and this is confirmed by the incantation, given by Romilly', 
which the sorceress is supposed to mutter while removing 
the foreign bodies. On the other hand I was constantly told 
that the great factor in non-epidemic disease was the loss of 
the sick individual's sua. 

' Op. cit. pp. 94, 95. ^ Op. cit. p. 96. 

lyo The Koita 

* When she takes things out of the body in sickness, 
such as stone, wood, rope, &c., she says ''Stand up, sickness 
{repeat three times), come out, evil {repeat twice), come blood 
{repeat twice), flow freely " {repeat three times). When she 
has finished, she produces the sickness in blood from her, 
or wood or stones, or pieces of spear, or whatever she has 
willed. The person feels better, and then she says " Be 
strong stomach {repeat once), be strong chest {repeat once), 
head ache no more {repeat twice) y ear hear {repeat twice), live 
body {repeat twice), oh open eyes ! " {repeat three times).' 

Romilly also gives the following incantation : 

' For driving away sickness she (the sorceress) cries in 
a loud voice to the inland spirits " Stay inland {repeat often), 
look not at me {repeat often), let not your eyes on me rest 
{repeat) ; inland rest your eyes {repeat), remain with the 
rocks {repeat), on the mountains stay " {repeat). The spirit of 
sickness leaves, and the sorceress says, *' Let my hands be 
clean {repeat), let my feet be clean " {repeat). Then she goes 
out by a circuitous route and returns to the village^' 

It is not, however, stated when this incantation was 
used, or whether it was appropriate to sporadic or endemic 
sickness. Probably it applies to the latter, for it seems to 
tally with what Romilly says elsewhere of an epidemic which 
raged in Hanuabada in 1886. * Torches were burnt, horns^ 
were blown, and the hereditary sorcerers sat up all night, 
cursing. ...Then it was decided that the land spirits were 
working this harm, and the whole population moored their 
canoes out in the bay, and slept in them at night ; but still 
the people died. Then they returned to their village and 
fired arrows at any moving object they saw, so that many 
native dogs came to an untimely endl' 

Ahuia gave the following account of one method of killing 
people by magic, the sorcerers practising this method being 
called vada^ though they were clearly not spirits or other 
non-human beings. 

One or more (often two or three) men who were sorcerers 
would follow their intended victim to his garden, or into 
the bush. There he would be speared and clubbed, and 
when dead cut to pieces. One end of a length of rope is 

^ Op. cit. p. 95. 

2 There are of course no horns in British New Guinea, probably conch shells 
are meant. 

3 op. cit. p. 78. * Cf. also pp. 187, 188 and Plate XXXI. 

Popular and Minor Magic 171 

then looped round the dead man's hand or knee, while the 
opposite end is steeped in certain 'medicine' [gorto). This 
'go along rope make man get up,' i.e. the virtue in the 
medicine passing along the rope to the dead man would 
restore him to life. Often the medicine of the sorcerer who 
first endeavours to revive the dead man is not strong enough. 
Then his colleagues would be asked to help. The dead man 
on his revival is dazed, ' he mad,' and knows not where he is, 
or what has befallen him. He is told that he will die shortly ; 
he does not subsequently remember this, but manages to return 
to his village, where his friends know what has happened to 
him by reason of his feeble, silly condition, though the victim 
himself does not know, and can give no account of what has 
occurred. According to Ahuia in November 1904, there was 
in gaol a Koiari, Yohia Wagira of Gas^ri, who had killed i/r/. rtu/i 
at least one man by sorcery. This man was in prison under 
remand on a charge of sorcery, and Ahuia made no secret of 
his fear that the government would not keep him in prison 
long enough, and looked forward with apprehension to his 
release, as he had threatened to put ' medicine ' in all the 
wells when he came out. That this medicine was magical 
seemed clear, and I do not think that Ahuia considered that 
poison in the European sense was ever used\ 


Apart from the more esoteric magic and sorcery already 
alluded to, there is a large body of magic which is essentially 
popular in character. Standing as it does in relation to the 
daily recurring wants of the people, it is practised to a 
greater or less extent by every adult. This class of magic 
is for the most part frankly sympathetic in action and includes, 
or included, garden, hunting, fishing and fighting magic, but 
it also embraces certain magical processes which cannot be 
included under the above headings. The magical element 
consists in the employment of certain natural objects, im- 
manent in which is a virtue communicable under appropriate 
circumstances to certain objects with which the first series of 
objects are brought into mediate or immediate contact. This 
virtue which may be considered to be ' static ' in the charm- 

^ Jequirity {Abnis precaiorius) is almost everywhere abundant but its poisonous 
properties do not appear to be known, or even suspected. 

172 The Koita 

stone becomes ' dynamic ' when communicated. Thus a 
yam charm brought into appropriate contact with seed yams 
produces a good crop, but the seed yams, or the harvest 
produced from them, can not pass on the quaHty to another 
lot of yams. 

Although charms of the kind under consideration are 
highly valued, there was, as a rule, no particular difficulty in 
acquiring specimens, though it was sometimes necessary to 
pay a comparatively high price for them. This was especially 
the case with the bark of certain trees brought from the 
Papuan Gulf to be used as hunting charms and for which the 
Koita themselves paid highly. I have personally collected a 
number of charms in the neighbourhood of Port Moresby and 
eastwards along the coast as far as Kerepunu, while at 
Port Moresby the magnificent collection of local charms 
got together by Mr D. Ballantine was examined and dis- 
cussed with Ahuia and other Koita'. The charms in this 
collection, which is now in the British Museum, coincide 
generally in character with those I have seen and collected 
in the Central District from Port Moresby to the Hood 


Probably the majority of charm stones are picked up in 
the district in which they were used. Some, however, may 
come from the Papuan Gulf as does the bark of certain trees. 
Although I could hear nothing of the use of charm stones 
of the usual type at Jokea, in the Papuan Gulf, where I spent 
a few days in 1898, there are in the Berlin Museum a couple 
of the usual yam charms, one of which (No. 2>^']']) is said 
to come from Vailala, while the other (No. 3892), a black 
water worn stone, has red lines on it, resembling in general 
character the red lines so often seen on the heads of Gulf 
clubs. Both these were presented by Chalmers, who notes 
that at Port Moresby, 'and other parts along the coast they 
have many charms used in planting, fishing, etc. These are 
obtained from Vailala'-. 

* I examined and made notes on this collection while in Port Moresby in 1898 
as a member of the Cambridge Anthropological Expedition. I take this oppor- 
tunity of thanking Dr Haddon for allowing me to make use of information then 
acquired. To Dr J. E. Marr and Mr W. % Fearnsides my thanks are due for 
information relating to the nature of the stones used as charms. My thanks are 
also due to the authorities of the British Museum for having made for me the 
photographs reproduced on Plate XXVII. 

^ Museum records. 





A charm In use by an old woman near Port Moresby for 
restoring folk to health was seized by the Resident Magistrate 
in 1898, and proved to consist of the reddened halves of an 
old broken Gulf coconut charm box, of the usual type, tied 

The qualities which lead to a natural body being recognized 
as a suitable charm, i.e. as capable of exercising a beneficial 
effect on a particular class of object, are generally (i) similarity 
in contour, or in other qualities, to the object to be influenced, 
or (11) rarity, or (HI) unusual shape in not very uncommon 

As examples of the first class may be cited the general 
shape of many yam and banana charm stones, especially those 
yam stones In which the regularity of their usual roughly 
spherical or oval contour Is broken by small, Irregularly 
rounded, projections, resembling the sprouting eye of a yam 
(figure 1 3 <^, b, d). Cassowary claws and crocodile teeth are 
adjuvant to other charms, and are of value themselves since 
the animals they are derived from are big and strong. 

Examples of the quality of rarity alluded to under (11) are 
the irregular conchellln masses (figure 13^,/) and the frag- 
ment of fossil coral (Plate XXVII, figure 2), the nature and 
origin of which are quite unknown to their possessors. The 
origin of the worked tubercles from the shells of species of 
Cassis appended to the charm In Plate XXVII, figure 3 is 
also unknown. 

Quartz fragments and especially crystals when well formed, 
are rare enough to be considered charms. The unusually fine 
crystal shown in Plate XXVII, figure 4 was a banana charm. 
There are two common moulded glass stoppers, such as are 
used to close bottles of cheap scent, in the Ballantlne collection. 
One of these (Plate XXVII, figure 5), in association with the 
more usual charm objects, was exposed on the hill side above 
its owner's garden, where the rain water would flow over it, and 
thus acquire added virtue to Increase the fertility of the garden. 

Stones with natural holes in them are examples of class (iii). 

Charms are sometimes found by means of dreams. Under 
these circumstances it Is the spirits [sua) of dead Koita who 
send the dream, and who usually Indicate where the charm 
is to be sought, and for what it is to be used. This was the 
history given to me of a number of the conchellln masses 
already alluded to : ' Man he dream him he find him along 


The Koita 

reef and although no native ever had the least Idea that they 
were derived from any marine animal, the microscope shows 
that these charms are in fact * blisters ' of great size, which 
probably come from the shells of the giant clam Tridacna 
gigcis. Rom illy mentions an instance of a spirit, who in his sleep 

Fig. 13. Koita charms. 

presented a sorcerer with certain charms which would produce 
rain and abundant crops^ 

Certain charm stones — as far as my knowledge goes these 

^ Op. cit. pp. 76, 'J']. 


Agricultural Channs 175 

are always of quartz — are so highly charged with magical 
power that it is not considered safe for them to be touched 
with the hand, even by the man who is about to bring their 
power into play\ One charm of this sort which I saw was 
kept in a small bamboo cylinder out of which it was lifted 
by means of a bone fork, the pointed end of which was thrust 
through the loosely netted covering which surrounded the 
stone. Unfortunately I could not ascertain for what purpose 
this charm was used. 


When planting coconuts a few leaves of a tree, called 
abekeru, are placed under the coconut. This tree bears 
a large quantity of fruit, which is not however eatable. 

Yam and banana crops are supposed to be favourably 
influenced by allowing water to drip over certain stones or 
other charms, and to fall on the seedling yams and banana 
suckers before these are planted. 

Chalmers gives the following incantation which should be 
repeated while this is being done though I believe this was 
not always considered necessary. 

Asinanari daudau, asinavari daudau^ asinavari daudau. 
Huevara daudau^ huevara daudau^ huevara daudau. 
Bedovari daudau^ bedovari datidau., bedovari daudau. 
Naevari daudau^ naevari daudau^ naevari daudau. 
Eogovari daudau., eogovari daudau^ eogovari daudau'^. 

Yam stones are rounded, oval or oblong, and almost 
always waterworn (figure 13^); they usually consist of a 
volcanic or highly metamorphic rock, or a basic tuff More 
rarely yam charms consist of pieces of trachytic larva, or 
waterworn fragments of vein quartz, or even the large irregular 
hollow ' blisters ' which probably arise in the giant clam 
[Tridacna gigcis). When these blisters are used as charms 
they are sometimes reddened, and water is left in them for 
a few minutes before being sprinkled on the yams. 

Among the yam charms sent by Mr Ballantine to the 
British Museum are waterworn pebbles of the following 
minerals : 

Serpentine, a diorite or hornblende schist, ophitic diabase, 

^ Cf. chapter xxiv on Magic and Sorcery among the Roro-speaking tribes. 
2 ' On the Manners and Customs of the Tribes of New Guinea.' Proceedings of 
the Philosophical Society of Glasgow^ Vol. XVlii. 1886. 

176 The Koita 

augite andesite, iron pyrites and a not obviously waterworn 
piece of chert. 

More or less spherical stones with a single slight conical 
or rounded projection are especially valued as yam charms. 
One such specimen has been completely reddened. Dr Marr 
thinks that these stones have been derived by weathering 
from the dumb-bell shaped stones (figure 13 >^) which are 
probably always volcanic in origin. These latter are very 
highly prized ; it was alleged that the ownership of one of 
these charms was alone sufficient to ensure the abundance 
and excellent quality of the yam crop, and it is not necessary 
for water to drip from them on to the seed yams. 

Certain oval, highly polished, stout, elongated stones were 
particularly valuable (figure 13^). When a specially big yam 
was dug up It would be touched with one of these stones. 
It would then be put away. Later, it would be found that, 
thanks to this procedure, many shoots had formed on It, and 
when these were planted, more large yams would result. 

The following are examples of banana charms in the 
Ballantine collection : 

A waterworn fragment of fossil coral. 

A more or less elongated banana-shaped waterworn pebble 
(figure 13/). 

A somewhat weathered spherical object, probably a child's 

A large mass of crystalline calclte. 

Irregular, somewhat weathered pieces of limestone, with 
transverse and longitudinal lines scored on them. 

Waterworn pebbles of limestone, vein quartz and a basic 
volcanic rock. 

A mass of beekite and an Irregular fragment, probably 
of laterite. 

Three waterworn pebbles of a metamorphic rock contained 
in a netted cover. 

A collection of charms consisting of a boar's tusk, two 
Cassis shell ornaments, a lump of resin, and a fragment ofj 
titaniferous iron ore, the last two In small string nets (Plate] 
XXVII, figure 3). 

A flattened circular disc of an intermediate or basic laval 
rough and unpolished, even at the edges. A hole has been 
bored through its centre, so that it has come to resemble the 
head of a small disc club. A few ^pirorbis shells adhere 

Htmting Charms 177 

to its surface, showing that after it had been made, it must 
have lain in salt water for some time. Water is not sprinkled 
upon this charm. To ensure a good banana crop it is only 
necessary to walk round the garden in the opposite direction 
to the hands of a clock, with this charm carried in the left 
hand and turned towards the centre of the garden. 

Certain charms are considered to have a beneficial effect 
on everything in the garden, and it appears that their presence 
in the gardens during planting time is sufficient to produce 
this result. An example in the Ballantine collection consists 
of four pieces of a resin, and a spherical waterworn pebble, 
each in a separate net, two echinus spines complete the charm 
(Plate XXVII, figure 6). 

Chalmers records that the following incantation * is 
repeated in the plantations ' at the time that * the yams are 
just above the ground.' 

Sinari kenikeni^ sinari keftikeni, sinari kenikeni. 
Hueri kenikeni^ hueri kenikeni^ hueri kenikeni. 
Kuela kenikeni., kuela kenikeni., kuela kenikeni. 
Naera kenikeni.^ naera keniketii^ naera kenikeni^. 


Hunting charms, generally speaking, consist of the bark 
of roots or trees, or of shrubs having an odoriferous or 
strongly tasting bark. Before hunting pig, wallaby or 
cassowary, scrapings of these barks, boiled with sago or other 
food, are given to the dogs. The efficacy of the charm is 
increased if pieces of mullet are added to the mess, because 
these fish jump ' quick and strong ' and these qualities are 
especially desirable when hunting cassowary. According to 
Ahula, the use of some of these barks as charms was learnt 
from men of the Papuan Gulf whence many of these charm- 
barks come, a valuable object, such as a small axe, being 
sometimes paid for a piece of bark a few inches square. 

Stones removed from the stomach of the Goura pigeon 
are also used as hunting charms, as are stones said to be 
found In the stomachs of pigs or alligators. Before going 
hunting a man would gently strike his dog's teeth with these 

^ ' On the Manners and Customs of the Tribes of New Guinea,' Proceedings of 
the Philosophical Society of Glasgow., Vol. xviii. 1886. 

S. N. G. 12 

178 The Koita 

One of the carpal or tarsal bones of a pig is sometimes 
worn in the arm band while pig hunting, this is supposed 
to compel distant pigs to approach, and a hunted pig '^driven 
a long distance, will presently turn back towards the hunter. 
When hunting wallaby, a man might partially blacken his 
face with charcoal made by burning the odoriferous bark of 
a tree. No reason could be discovered for this practice. 


In the Ballantine collection there are two irregularly 
fractured pieces of quartz crystal. Both show well marked 
striation. Two nicks, obviously purposeful, have been made 
in one of the edges of the larger specimen. A firestick is 
applied to one end of the charm, until it is judged to be 
sufficiently hot to make a corner of the net smoke when 
momentarily held against it, in this way the nets are charmed 
immediately before being taken to the beach. The following 
are other fish charms in the Ballantine collection, apparently 
they were used by placing them in contact with the nets. 

(i) Two lumps of quartz ; one irregularly fractured the 
other waterworn ; both are in rough string bags which are 
connected by a piece of string. 

(ii) Two irregular pieces of quartz in rough string bags 
similarly connected. 

(iii) An irregularly fractured piece of quartz which is 
connected by a short piece of string with a string knot to 
which are attached ^w^ small netted string bags containing 
charms and two other charm objects. The latter are a piece 
of resin and an irregularly fractured piece of jasper or jasper- 
like rock. The five netted bags contain respectively a slightly 
polished pebble, a clam {Tridacna) pearl, two clam pearls, 
fragments of resin, a fragment of quartz. The whole charm 
is shown in Plate XXVI 1, figure 8 and one of the pearls in 
figure 13 [m), 


The dried claw of a large raptorial bird is left under the 
spread out dugong net for a few minutes before it is used, or 
fragments of a gum resin^ (Plate XXVII, figure 7) are placed 

Perhaps more than one kind of resin is used. I have seen samples varying 
in colour from bright amber to dark brown. 


War Charms 179 

on glowing embers in the canoe, so that the fumes rise through 
the net held above the smouldering mass. In the same way 
fragments of gum resin are burnt under turtle nets, which may 
also be treated by leaving fragments of quartz under them for 
a few minutes. The sexual restrictions imposed on the leader 
of a turtle or dugong fishing party have already been referred 
to on page 140. 


spears would be rubbed with ginger, or stabbed into the 
roots of this plant, to make them go straight. When guns 
were introduced the belief was extended to them. At one 
time when Ahuia was a * shooting boy,' he used to carry 
a small piece of ginger root in his pouch with his cartridges, 
in order that his gun might shoot straight. In spite of the 
belief in the general efficacy of ginger, it had, however, been 
discovered, that no amount of magic would turn a poor 
spearsman into an accurate thrower. 

When fighting, a piece of the bark of a tree with specially 
tough wood was held in the hand along with the handle of 
the shield. This made the shield strong, and prevented it 

Chalmers gives ' the following prayer ' used before battle 
by Mabata 'a great man in the tribe, and a kind-hearted fellow, 
though a sorcerer,' who said that it made ' the fighter's hands 
hang down with weakness, and their knees tremble.' 

Tuanugu i ae 7nai^ tuanugu i ae mat, tuanugu i ae mat. 

Koinanugu i ae mai^ koinanugu i ae mai, komanugu i ae mai. 

Vatigu i ae niai^ vaugu i ae mai^ vaugu i ae mai. 

Korubuie^ korubuie. 

Tuaurn e ae a^ tiiauru e ae a. 

Gorigori e ae a, gorigori e ae a. 

Kuru e ae «, kuru e ae a. 

Gaubu i ae^ gaubu i ae. 

Suuri I ae ??iai^ suuri i ae mai^ suui'i i ae mai. 

Guboioboio^ guboioboio^ guboioboio^ guboioboio. 

Koieri gatnia a^ koieri gamia <?, 

Gairiaki boioboio, gairiaki boioboio. 

De umu ba ba^ de ti?nu ba ba^. 


Charms of the usual type, composed of a group of objects, 
.each of which is usually contained in its separate string net, 

1 'On the Manners and Customs of the Tribes of New Guinea,' Proceedings of 
^the Philosophical Socieiy of Glasgow, Wo\.yiWUl. \2>Z6. 

12 — 2 

i8o The Koita 

were said to be love charms, though unfortunately the method 
of using them was not clear. A piece of quartz was some- 
times used as a love charm ; one fragment shown to me, 
obviously the oblique broken-off top of a prism, would be 
immersed for a few minutes in the milk of a young coconut, 
and while moist rubbed over his face, by the youth using the 
charm, who naturally thinks intently of the particular girl he 
desires while he is doing this, and also when walking about the 
village or dancing. When the girl sees the boy the charm 
begins to work, the girl feels drawn to him and usually 
responds to his advances. It seemed clear that this charm 
would work only on the particular girl desired, and not on 
other girls, and this was said to be due to the fact that the 
boy was continually thinking about her. 


' They [the Koita] are supposed to be able to prevent 
rain from falling. Last year was one of prolonged drought. 
A Koitapuan village was said to have been the cause, and 
a party of Motu ultimately went to wreak their vengeance 
on... that village. Some eight or ten were killed, and as the 
drought had long continued, rain soon followed this murder\' 
The Koita are or were supposed to be able to influence the 
weather over a considerable distance of coast line. In 1876 
the returning hiri fell in with bad weather, ' The sea became 
rough, and they were obliged to throw a good deal [of sago] 

overboard to save their frail canoes A tribe from Hood 

Point had been waiting for a share of the sago, and were 
angry at the small quantity, but instead of venting their 
anger on the tribe who had been unfortunate, they laid in 
wait outside the Koitapu village and killed the first man 
who passed. This was done, they said, to revenge their 
bewitching the canoes and making them unfortunate^' 
Romilly mentions an old Koita sorcerer digging up one of 
the 'most powerful of their spirits [.-^ charms], which produced 
rain and abundant crops. It consisted of a fragment of 
pottery and two small round stones from the river, apparently 
iron nodes I' 

This appears to refer to an incident recorded by Chalmers 

* W. G. Lawes, ' Ethnological notes on the Motu, Koitapu, and Koiaii Tribes of 
New Guinea,' Journ. Anthrop. Inst.y Vol. viil. 1887, p. 2>73- 
^ Lawes, /oc. cit. ^ Op. cit. p. 76. 

JVeather Charms i8i 

as follows: 'There is a place In the bush near to Port Moresby- 
sacred to the Koitapuans, where no one ever treads ; to do so 
would be instant death.... The name of this Koitapu place 
is Varimana. Long ages ago, mighty men went inland to 
Sogeri, and carried away a very large stone. On the way 
down many died, and when the stone arrived near the coast 
range, the whole tribe begged that it might be left at Varimana, 
lest all should be exterminated. Long after it was carried 
to Koiari, and they too died in large numbers. Again it was 
returned, and buried at Varimana, close by a young tree ; the 
tree has grown very large, and now the stone is quite covered 
by it, but no one ever goes near the place. The stone before 
burial was carefully wrapped in native cloth, and bound round 
with well-made twine.' 

'Such was the story often told from generation to genera- 
tion. When the hunting season came round, and the grass 
in the vicinity of the tree was to be burned, Mabata, a great 
chief and sorcerer among the Koitapuans, might be seen 
clearing a wide space so that the fire might not approach near 
the tree. A threat by Mabata to dig up the stone and turn it 
over would at once strike terror Into the whole Motu tribe, 
and many large presents would be brought him.' 

' Time after time we tried to persuade Mabata to let us 
see the stone, but not until last year were we able not only 
to see it, or rather them, but to secure them. I offered the 
chief what was to him a very valuable present, and I accom- 
panied him inland. On arrival at the tree he walked round 
it, and then asked if I was not afraid ? On my replying — 
" Certainly not," he got a pointed stick, dug down a little 
distance through very hard soil that did not appear to have 
been touched for a very long time, until he came on a piece 
of an earthenware pot which covered another piece, in which 
were two small pebbles — the source of all the discomfort of 
many generations. He was very loath to let me have them, 
but after some persuasion, and leaving tobacco as a present 
for the spirit, 1 was allowed to carry them away\' 

1 ' Manners and Customs of some of the Tribes of New Guinea,' Proceedings of 
the Philosophical Society of Glasgow^ Vol. xvni. 1886, p. 61. 

1 82 The Koita 


As far as could be ascertained, divination was only used 
to discover thieves. The injured individual might consult 
a sorcerer, who would pull his own fingers while calling over 
a series of names, and, should a joint crack, the name last 
mentioned was that of the thief. Or the sorcerer might collect 
certain * bush medicine ' and put it under his sleeping mat. 
That night he would dream of the thief. 






ife(x7 /tM4^. 7'"-'£ 
- // 







y. y 

Urita and sese offering 




The Kolta believe in a number of mythical beings with 
various external characteristics, all more or less malicious. The 
most Important of these, called tadti, Inhabit definite areas, and 
in some Instances at least have spheres of Influence to which 
their power Is limited. The places they inhabit are discovered 
by the occurrence of sickness or death after camping, eating, 
sitting or urinating in these areas. The bites of insects, and 
accidental wounds received In such localities, are thought to 
produce especially severe and intractable sores. 

Fits and convulsions called inunu (at least one case of 
true epilepsy was included under this term) are attributed to 
the agency of tabu. Tabu may exist in fresh water springs, 
where they are occasionally seen as starfish or crabs, or in 
the bush. In the form of snakes \ Tabu have no sua, and 
their existence is Indefinitely long. A creature called urita, 
living in wells and springs in the shape of a cephalopod, or 
in the form of a fish (probably an eel) described as being like 
a snake, was allied to, or perhaps considered a special example 
of tabu. The water in such wells or springs is thought to be 
due to the presence of urita, and if the latter were killed the 
well or spring would dry up. Plate XXVI 1 1 is a reproduction of 
a spirited drawing of urita sent by Ahula and probably made 
by Rabura of Kllaklla. A specially powerful and malicious 
tabu lives in a spring below Saddleback Hill, a few miles from 
Port Moresby. 

A tabu called Hara Tabu is immanent in a small hill some 
150 feet high, about a mile from Waifana village, near the 

^ My informants were perfectly certain that spiritual beings having the forms of 
starfish and cephalopods existed in fresh water and Ahuia told me that he had 
himself seen something like a cuttlefish in a fresh water spring. 

184 The Koita 

Laloki river. This hill, which Is surrounded by dense jungle 
and covered with loose limestone rocks, is the only one of its 
kind in the immediate neighbourhood, but it does not rise as 
sharply from the surrounding plain as is indicated in the draw- 
ing reproduced in Plate XXIX. No native would approach 
this hill and when a party of white men, of which I was a 
member, ascended it, the neighbouring Kolari prophesied 
that evil would follow and that the white men would suffer, 
or the least that might be expected was that the native gardens 
in the vicinity would be destroyed by a storm. Further, when 
Ahuia who accompanied the party was thrown from his 
horse on the return journey, the fall was attributed to the 
anger of the tabu. A club or a spear, made from a tree 
growing anywhere near this hill, is thought to inflict an 
especially severe wound, though not necessarily a fatal one. 
If a man killed a wallaby anywhere near the hill, he would 
take care that none of its blood dropped on the ground, and 
if the ground were accidentally soiled with blood, the dust 
and dirt or the leaves on which the blood had fallen would 
be gathered and thrown into the river. This was done to 
protect from sickness the folk who would subsequently eat 
the wallaby, for if the blood or any portion of the wallaby 
were left behind, it would be eaten, or in some way absorbed 
by the tabu, who would then be able to Inflict illness on any 
one partaking of the same wallaby. 

Like the urita, this tabu was connected with fresh water, 
for he originally lived in the Laloki River. Legend tells that 
one day a man caught a number of fine prawns In the river 
which were claimed by the tabu who appeared In the form 
of a huge carpet snake. The man ran away but could not 
out-distance his pursuer, and finally, when breathless and 
exhausted, the snake came up with him and explained that 
he would for the future accompany him everywhere, and 
entered his house with him. In vain the man besought him 
to go away, day and night the snake never left his side. At 
last the man resorted to a stratagem. His fellow villagers 
went hunting, and killed a number of wallaby ; they erected 
a barbecue over a big hole in order to preserve their meat, 
but its supports were so arranged that a single blow on one 
of the props would let whatever was upon the platform fall 
into the deep hole dug beneath. When plenty of wallaby 
had been caught a message was sent to the village where 

Plate XXIX 

// . 

!i : 

' Ij 

Hill on which lives Hara Tabu 

Mythical Beings 185 

the man and the tabu were, saying that if they would come 
to the place where the meat was being barbecued they could 
have as much as they cared to eat. When they had eaten 
their fill, the snake was invited to ascend the barbecue and 
rest there. After he had made himself comfortable, the 
supporting prop was knocked away, the barbecue dropped 
to pieces, the tabu fell Into the hole, and all the men 
present Immediately filled it with earth and stones, and then 
returned to their village. All that night they stayed awake 
in their village in fear of the dire vengeance the tabu might 
be expected to take, but nothing more horrible than a slight 
earthquake occurred, and In the morning they saw that the 
hill, now called Hara Tabu, had arisen on the spot where 
their barbecue had stood. 

Should a man who has been in the bush shake with fever, 
as he often does soon after his return to the village, it is 
assumed that he has fallen down and become temporarily 
unconscious In the bush while a tabu had taken his sua. 

Captain Barton supplies the following additional example 
of a tabu. 'A water hole near the Lalokl, named Agure Tabu, 
is haunted by a tabu. People drinking therefrom must pinch 
a hole in the bottom of the conically rolled leaf from which 
they drink, so that the tabu may fall out through the hole. 
If this is not done, the tabu will enter the man, who will swell 
up and die. A " South Sea^ " man (name unknown to Ahula) 
once drank there without this precaution, and he swelled up 
and died almost immediately afterwards.' 

Another tabu, having the power of making folk sick, is 
regarded as Immanent in a large tree [Ficus rigd) just below 
Government House. It appeared that this tabtc was thought 
of as having a human form to some extent, or at certain times. 

A special ceremony Is necessary to Induce the tabu to 
give up a stia which he has captured. Toia, mairjt and other 
valuable ornaments are tied to a long bamboo, and taken by 
the sick man (whose sua has been stolen) and his friends to 
the place where he asserts he fell down and lost consciousness. 
The bamboo decked with ornaments is called sese, and is 
supported horizontally by two men over a pot which has 

^ The term 'South Sea' man in pidgin English is applied alike to Polynesians 
and foreign Melanesians. As foreigners were unknown in the country 30 years 
ago, the fact that the name of the alleged victim was unknown to Ahuia points 
strongly to the story being apocryphal. 

1 86 The Koita 

been brought from the village. The pot lies on the ground, 
and the blades of a kind of grass {siriho), which grows in 
damp places, are put in it, together with a live firestick. 
As the siriho crackles and burns, the men standing round the 
pot, each with a stone in his hand, strike the pot which is thus 
broken, every one groaning as it breaks. After this, the 
sese is carried back to the village by the same two men who 
carried it out, and on the return journey neither the sick man 
nor his attendants may look behind them. 

When he reaches the village, the sick man lies down in 
his house, and the sese is hung above him. Ahuia volunteered 
the statement that the tabu kept the sua of the sick man in 
the ground, and that he would accept the sua of the ornaments 
in exchange for that of the man, and it appeared that if the 
exchange had been successfully negotiated, the invalid would 
get well in a couple of days. The upper part of Plate XXVI 1 1 
represents the sese ceremony ; the figure nearest the pot is a 
sick boy, behind him is a man with a stone in his hand. The 
mouth of the pot is filled in with red chalk, to indicate that 
fire and smoke come from it. The ornaments, three armshells, 
two boar tusks and one Tnaire hanging from the bamboo 
support carried by two men, are all well seen\ No meaning 
could be elicited for that part of the ceremony in which the pot 
is broken. 

Children may be attacked by tabu, and for them sese 
would be similarly made. If a child has convulsions and, 
as may well happen, falls off a verandah, it is suggested 
that the child's sua has been taken by a being called Atani 
Tano who lives in the sea, and in outward form resembles 
a man with very long hair but without arms or legs. Another 
being called Godiva resembles a man with long frizzly hair 
but has no toes on his feet. If his name be mentioned when 
fishing or hunting bad luck will ensue. Godiva wanders 
about the bush carrying a short spear, described as being 
about three feet long, with which he stabs people, who go 
home, sicken, and die. 

Reference is made on page 193 to the almost harmless 
sua of the forgotten dead who wander about the bush where 
men have died. Devase (Plate XXX) is the name of a 

* liy the side of the drawinfj the following description is written : 'This boy's 
mother ben to the wartter springs for get wartter and his boy geting ske (sick). So 
they get all the things to the springs and pot and mak fier insid pot. And boy st 
down longsid the pot the other boy get stoen for brek the pot.' 

Plate XXX 








i-x ■>-■-- 



Mythical Beings 187 

class of beings without arms and legs, or sometimes thought 
of as having arms and legs but no hands or feet. All devase 
have lonof hair. 

Vadavada or vatavata are certain creatures who frequent 
the bush. The Rev. Dr Turner says of the Motu : 'They 
connect a sudden attack of illness with an evil spirit whom 

they call Vata... supposed to live in the bush When a person 

is taken suddenly ill they say Vata has killed him, his life 
is despaired of, and little or nothing is done with him\' But 
the name appears to have been applied to predatory bushmen, 
who might fall upon and kill a wandering Koita, as well as 
to certain non-human beings stated to. kill men with an 
egg-shaped stone club, make medicine of the body, and then 
bring the victim to life again. The attempt to bring the 
victim to life again is shown in Plate XXXI. A man attacked 
by vada returns desperately weak and ill to his village, where 
he dies in from three to six days. In form the vadavada 
look and dress like ordinary men, but invariably travel at 
night. It was not clear how far the majority of the older 
men regarded the vadavada as true non-human beings, or 
how far they used them as bogies to keep the women and 
children from straying into the bush at night. Certainly 
some of the older, and almost all the younger men believed 
in their non-human nature ; others it appeared to me con- 
sidered them to be Koiari. Although every Koita believes 
in the existence and harmful influence of vata or vada, 
the above account shows how elastic is this belief, and how 
it varies from man to man. As no definite conclusion 
seemed possible, Captain Barton kindly investigated the 
matter, and interrogated Ahuia, with the following result, 
from which it appears that to Ahuia vadavada are sorcerers. 

' A vata is not a ghost or spirit ; it is really a man. 
A vata may enter a house and kill an inmate and then bring 
him to life again, but next day the inmate becomes sick, and 
in two or three days is dead. Hence a vata is a sorcerer. 
Vata also go about during the night and steal. Generally 
they go in bands of three, four, six or twelve. All vata are 
sorcerers. If a vata is killed he becomes harmless for all 
time. A vata (one of twelve) was killed by an arrow one 
night in Hanuabada. His companion vata took his body 

' 1 \V. Y. Turner, ' On the Ethnology of the Motu,' Joum. Anthrop. Inst., Vol. 
XII. 1878, pp. 470 et seq. 

1 88 The Koita 

away during the night. There were blood marks on the 
ground in the morning. News soon afterwards came from 
Makibiri (a Koiari village) that the dead man {vatd) belonged 
to that village. Ahuia saw six vata coming to a hunting 
camp one night, and one of them advanced to the smoking 
platform and stole a piece of wallaby. He tried to catch him 
but could not. Ahuia says [he knew] they were vata because 
[another man by name] Kunia told him so afterwards.' 

Romilly refers to three spirits, Devase, Horumagi and 
a female spirit V^aganamagi, invoked to cure disease by an 
old woman whom he calls by the Motu term Papalau\ 


Most of the omens believed in by the Koita and Motu 
apply to hunting and fishing. It is lucky when going after 
turtle or dugong if a flying fish leaps into a canoe. A small 
garfish jumping on the right side of a canoe brings good 
luck, if it jump on the left side the omen is bad. When going 
hunting or fishing it is lucky for a man to strike his right foot 
against a stone or a bit of wood, and unlucky to strike his 
left. To sneeze once brings luck, but to sneeze twice or 
three times is unlucky. 

Certain creatures are especially thought to betoken good 
or bad luck. If the cry of a bird called kisahu be heard, 
a hunting party will immediately go in the direction of the 
sound and in no circumstances would kisahu be killed. 
Another bird, yohu, a small green dove, is of evil omen, and 
if a hunting party meet one of these flying from the direction 
in which they are going they would immediately turn back 
and do nothing until the next day. It is said that this bird 
is sometimes killed and eaten. 

The above omens are said to be due to the spirits [sua) 
of dead tribesmen who send the birds and fish so that men 
may know what will befall them. In spite of this, ancestors 
are not, as far as I could discover, invoked before hunting 
or fishing, though among the Sinaugolo living some thirty 
miles east of the Koita territory this custom prevails. 

^ Romilly, loc. cit.^ pp. 94, 95. Mr Teina Materua of Mangaia, who knows the 
Motu well, states that a Papalau is one who not only knows why folk sicken and 
die, and how to cure disease, but he has also some knowledge of the future since 
he knows when the hiri will return from the Papuan Gulf, and he further does a 
trade in love charms, besides practising extortion in various ways. 

Eschatology 1 89 

Certain omens foretell death. If many dogs howl at 
midnight someone will die, and if the cry of a certain night 
bird, an pwl or night jar called doa, be heard an old or 
important man will die. If when fishing a man finds a 
dead fish of any sort, someone has recently died in his 
village, or one of his relatives has died in some other village, 
and if, while the lakatoi are away on the hiri, a small octopus 
called manegi is found dead, someone on the hiri has recently 

A sudden disturbance among cockatoos, or the green 
and red parrots {Eclectus polychloros) is recognized as a 
valuable sign that strangers were about in the bush, and 
since predatory Koiari are more likely to be moving through 
the bush than any others, it is taken as a warning. No non- 
human agency is invoked here : ' Bird he smell man and sing 


A man's shadow is called va^Hva (M. laulau), the same 
word is applied to his reflection in water, and nowadays 
to his photograph or image in a mirror. 

Sua (M. laumd) on the other hand is something which 
at death leaves a man to lead an independent existence. In 
this sense sua means ghost or shade, and it is thus that the 
Koita usually employ the term. But a sua may also tempo- 
rarily leave the body or be enticed therefrom, its absence 
causing the sickness, or if unduly prolonged, the death of 
the individual in whose body it was immanent. In this sense 
sua corresponds to soul, life, or vital essence of the individual, 
and evil inflicted on the sua is reproduced in the individual. 

Animals have no sua, but information was volunteered 
to the effect that the reason for a certain magical ceremony 
(pp. 185, 186) was to give the sua of armshells and other 
valuables to an offended spiritual agency. 

The late Dr Lawes told me, that among the Motu pigs, 
dogs and wallaby have a laulauma but no lauma. When 
they die it is their end, for laulauma have no separate 
existence. Suppose a pig looks very big but when killed 
appears small, they may say ' la mat laulau7na ida ta gau- 
badabada^ 'he was big because his laulauma v^2L^\^\\\\(\r\) him.' 

Koita sua go to a mountain called Idu ; Koiari and Motu 
shades go elsewhere. The sua on Idu lead a life resembling 

I go The Koita 

that led on earth, good and bad, strong and weak, warrior 
and child, all fare alike on Idu, but should a body be buried 
with its nasal septum unpierced, the sua would be compelled 
to wear as nose ornament {inoki) a creature tehena described 
as something like a slowworm. Hence a post 77iortem opera- 
tion would be performed on any Koita who might die with an 
unpierced septum. 

When a man dies his sua goes immediately to Idu, whence 
it quickly returns, accompanied by other sua who help the 
newly freed spirit to carry away the sua of objects which the 
dead man had cared for in this life (this information was 
volunteered, no questions had been asked). Further, the sua 
of the articles ceremonially destroyed at a man's death to 
make his tobi (p. i6o) exist on Idu\ Stca have gardens, 
houses and wives on Idu, where they live for an unknown 
period, which is longer than the life of man, but at length 
they weaken and utterly cease to exist. Perhaps the period 
of their existence is the time during which their memory or 
the memory of their names is retained on earth, for some 
Gaile men discussing this subject suggested that when their 
names were lost, they also must have vanished. The habits 
and amusements of the sua on Idu are those of mankind. 

Sua are seen in dreams and a few men who would 
probably be called sorcerers have the power of seeing them 
in the waking state. They frequently return to their villages 
and indeed tend to haunt the place of their death. In 
spite of this and many other statements to the effect that 
sua are not seen in the waking state, the belief of the 
majority of the Hanuabada villagers on this point is so 
indefinite that in 1900 four Motuan girls had no difficulty 
in persuading many of the Port Moresby folk that they could 
cause to appear in bodily form a youth named Tamasi, who 
died in 1897. Three of the girls were aged about sixteen, 
the fourth about twelve, Mea the leader of the party being 
one of the older girls. The following account of what 
occurred was sent to me by Mr Teina Materua of Mangaia, 
who is in the government service at Port Moresby, to whom 
my best thanks are due. 

' Eventually the mother and relatives of Tamasi paid the 
long price in native money, the sorceress demanded for her 

^ Idu is also the legendary original home of the Badili, Hohodai and Yavvai 
sections of the Koita, cf. pp. 43 and 44. 

Eschatology 191 

services. On a certain night when it was arranged that 
Tamasi should be evoked, his relatives and friends squatted 
in a house at Taora (behind Hanuabada village) waiting for 
his appearance. Among the group was myself (Teina 
Materua of Mangaia) and a Manila man, named Lario. We 
arranged that if anything material appeared one should hold 
the "ghost" while the other struck a light. Tamasi's incarna- 
tion did appear and went round shaking hands with his 
expectant relatives; when, however, he came round to us 
Lario held the incarnation fast while I struck a light, with 
the result that the supposed dead man turned out to be a 
Hanuabada girl named Mea. The girl was afterwards brought 
before a Magistrate's Court and punished with a short term 
of imprisonment for practising sorcery. Also the Magistrate 
collected from the sorceress all native money and a quantity 
of tomahawks and knives which had been paid to her by 
people in Hanuabada, Pari and Hula for her services.' 

Sua may leave the body during sleep ; if a man wake 
before his sua has returned, he will probably sicken. Sneezing 
is a sign that the sua has returned, and if a man does not 
sneeze for many weeks together it is a bad sign, his sua 
*go long way away somewhere.' That sua return from Idu 
in an unsubstantial form is due to the disobedience of a 
woman. Long, long ago the sua of a dead man returned 
to his wife, he was in a terrible condition of early decay, 
his eyes bulged from their sockets and his tongue hung from 
his open mouth beyond his chin. The sua told his wife to 
boil water and wash him, but she was too afraid to do this. 
When the sua found that she would not do this for him, he 
told her that if she had done as he directed other sua would 
have been able to return in their bodily form, but now this 
could never be. 

Sua on their visits to their former sphere of existence 
show little benevolence or loving kindness to their de- 
scendants. The sua of recently dead folk would punish any 
neglect or infringement of their funeral rites, they especially 
frequent the neighbourhood of their houses, and this seemed 
the chief reason for the ceremonial desertion of houses in 
which a death had occurred (cf. p. 89). A dead man's stia, 
it was admitted, would not hurt a relative unless something 
was done to annoy it, but even a son who did not show 
I proper zeal for his father's funeral rites would be punished. 

192 The Koita 

while any Infringement of tribal custom might determine the 
sua to smite the offender with sickness, or bring bad luck 
in hunting or fishing. 

On the other hand sua may be asked to help the living. 
Dr Lawes records the death of a Motu woman of Port 
Moresby. 'When the body was laid in the grave, the husband 
threw himself on it and quietly sobbed out his grief. After 
a while his friends attempted to lift him off, but he said 
** Stop a minute." He then put his mouth to her ear, whispered 

for a minute or two He asked her when they should go 

inland hunting, or to sea fishing, that she should watch and 
protect them\' 

Children who play in the immediate neighbourhood of 
a ceremonially deserted house may sicken, and food hung 
up in a house where a death had recently occurred may 
cause sickness, if eaten by folk other than members of the 
family. Sua are said to visit the dubu at feast time where, 
according to one informant, they eat the variva (shadow) 
of the food hung up. Folk may talk to sua on the dubu 
and, although the latter cannot be appreciated by the waking 
senses, they might answer in dreams. Charms, too, have 
been brought to men during their sleep by sua, thus Romilly 
records that an * old [Koita] sorcerer came to Chalmers and 
said the spirit had appeared to him while he slept and was 
very angry and put two more stones on his chestl' It has 
already been stated that bird and fish omens while hunting 
and fishing are sent to men by the sua, so that the former 
may know where to go and what to do. At Gaile the spirits 
of the dead would be seen in dreams before feasts, and they 
might say that they would be with their descendants. No 
matter how emaciated or with what ulcers a man had died, 
in dreams his sua would appear as the man was before being 
stricken with disease, and would often be painted and 
decorated for dancing. At Gaile it was held that only the 
spirits of known and remembered men frequented the dubu, 
but according to my informants the spirit of De Bori, the 
reputed founder of the settlement (who was, however, a 
hillman from inland) was not thought to come to the dubu. 

At a feast a few fragments of food would often be left 
on the dubu for the sua, this was not done with any particular 

^ Op. cit. p. 371. ^ From My Verandah, p. tj. 

Eschatology 193 

ceremony, but one of the old men would generally suggest 
or see that it was done, after they had themselves eaten. 
In spite of the close relationship between the living and the 
dead implied by these beliefs concerning the sua, I could not 
discover that ancestors were invoked before hunting, or that 
cooked food was offered to the sua^, nor could I hear of any 
special connection between the big carved corner posts of the 
dubu and the sua of the man to whom they belonged, or by 
whom they had been carved and set up, though as noted on 
page 62, ownership in them as well as responsibility for their 
repair descends strictly from father to son. 

The fear of his victim which a homicide formerly felt, 
was in some way due to fear of the sua of the dead man, but 
when a homicide resorted to the dubu ceremonially, he was 
said to do so, not to obtain the protection of the sua of his 
dead kinsfolk, but because in the first pride and joy of his 
deed he would wish to be in touch with the spirits of the 
mighty dead of his people. 

Certain sua are, however, quite harmless and no notice 
is taken of them. They appear to be the sua of the forgotten 
dead who are thought to haunt the bush, and cause only 
the slightest annoyance to the living, their presence being 
recognized by their snapping sticks and tickling sleepers to 
whom, however, they do no harm. According to another 
account, these harmless sua wander about the bush at night 
when they appear as bright bluish flames. They are abso- 
lutely harmless, nevertheless the living feel afraid when they 
see them. 


On the first sight of the new moon the people of the 
Port Moresby villages give a prolonged somewhat shrill cry 
which is taken up by all and repeated in chorus. Captain 
Barton in answer to a letter on this subject says, ' All the 
heavenly bodies are more or less venerated, or perhaps more 
correctly, may be said to be regarded with awe. The sun, 
moon and morning star {hisiu bada) are the chief ones. They 
only "yell" for the new moon ; I do not know the words used.' 

^ These practices do, however, occur among the Sinaugolo some miles to the 
east of the Koita territory. These folk call upon their ancestors by name while 
driving pig, and at Kwalimarupu, one of their biggest villages, I heard of the 
custom of cooking food and taking it to the gardens where it is left for the spirits 
of the dead {balau). It was said that this was especially done before undertaking 
a journey. 

S. N. G. 13 

14f6 30 


Q Jft/liL 



M E 

^ K £ 




^ pOrirarpetajvaL' 






R A P E K A 





\ HMoivaJ 

V // 


Bereiiuau H^i 


PoijTu> ( 


OropoTomo Cr^l 

O jTuuvoInU/ JET^DO 




Itoro OCT Xi olo I. 
(Yule I.) I 






Scale of Miles 

I'^e 30 

Fig. 14. Sketch map of Roro and Mekeo districts. 




The Roro- speaking tribes occupy a territory at the 
mouth of the St Joseph river extending from Kevori, east 
of Waimatuma (Cape Possession), to Hiziu in the neigh- 
bourhood of Galley Reach. But Hiziu and the village of 
Nabuapaka^ are comparatively recent colonies ; and Delena, 
which is in part composed of the descendants of a Roro- 
speaking stock, should probably be considered the old eastern 
limit of the Roro district. Inland of the Roro-speaking tribes 
is a region called by them Mekeo, which is inhabited by two 
closely related tribes, the Biofa and Vee, and the word Mekeo 
will be used in this limited sense in this book (cf. chapter xxvi). 
The common name of Yule Island is Roro, and this is also 
the name of one Roro-speaking tribe ; but in this volume 
Yule Island will be called by its English name, and 'Roro' 
reserved for the tribe. 

The Roro-speaking tribes are divisible linguistically into 
two sections employing slightly different dialects which, for 
convenience, may be called {a) Roro and (d) Waima, these 
being the names of the most important tribe speaking each 

The Roro dialect is spoken by three tribes : 

(i) Roro, comprising the villages Siria, Pinupaka, 
Pokama, Baara^ Rerena^ and a portion of Delena. 

^ Called Geabada by the Motu. 

2 Baara is almost certainly identical with Nikura also known as Arabure. 

^ A small colony consisting of two houses only. 


196 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

(ii) Paltana, comprising the villages Rapa, Mou, Bioto 
and Babiko. 

(iii) Marehau^ constituting a portion of the inhabitants 
of Delena. 

The Waima dialect is also spoken by three tribes : 

(i) Waima (Maiva), (ii) Kevori, (iii) Bereinal 


Formerly the Roro tribe dwelt near the coast, at Maiaera, 
about six miles to the west of Pinupaka and only a few 
hundred yards inland from the beach. There its members 
remained until some 35 years ago when, harassed by continual 
warfare with Waima, Mekeo and Paitana, they moved to 
Araha, near Pinupaka, where they stayed some ten years, 
until an epidemic broke out. The majority then shifted to 
Yule Island, at that time uninhabited ; but some went to 
Pinupaka, a few settled at Pokama after a short stay at 
Rerena, and another party went to Baara, near the mouth 
of the Ethel river, whence some migrated later to Delena, 
and others to Erierine on Yule Island. 

The history of the Paitana tribe resembles in its broad 
outlines that of Roro, as is shown by the following account 
of the history of Mou (the most important of the Paitana 
villages) derived from information supplied by Father E. 

At one time the people of this village lived on the plain 
of Maiaera, near the settlement of the Roro tribes. As the 
result of more or less continual petty warfare they moved 
to the bank of a salt water creek called Ararana, about three 
quarters of an hour's walk from the site of the present Mou. 
Here they remained until some forty years ago when, as the 
result of an attack by Elema natives in which many were J 
killed, they moved to the neighbourhood of the present 

^ The whole population of Delena is at the present day Roro-speaking, and has I 
adopted the Roro form of chieftainship ; but the village at one time contained j 
members of two tribes in no way closely related to each other. The original 
inhabitants of Uelena were folk of the nearly related Roro-speaking tribes of Roro 
and Paitana, but to these were early added members of two iduhu (clans) from the 
Motu village of Boiera, one of which was called Marehau. It appears that this 
name has been extended to include both iduhu, and that the Roro-speaking 
Marehau are in fact the descendants of these Motu whose tribal identity has been 
completely merged in that of the earlier Roro-speaking settlers. 

^ Dr Strong states that Bereina had formerly a dialect (Melan^ian) which 
differed from that of V^aima and which one old man is said still to know. 

History 197 

village, forming at first a congeries of small settlements, each 
presumably occupied by a part, or the whole of a single clan, 
and so resembling the Waima congeries. 

The Waima tribe of to-day is estimated by the Missionaries 
of the Sacred Heart to contain about 1 100 people, inhabiting 
some twenty settlements, scattered over an area of rather less 
than two miles along the coast, about seven miles west of 
Pinupaka, and extending nearly a mile inland. Here the 
low sandy coastal fiat is met by a range of hills, some 400 
feet high, forming a continuous ridge between which and the 
sea, the Waima settlements lie. These hills reach the coast 
a few miles further west at the promontory called Cape 
Possession (Waimatuma), the eastern slopes of which con- 
stitute the western boundary of the Roro-speaking tribes. 

Between Waima and Cape Possession live the Kevori 
tribe, in a series of settlements resembling generally the 
Waima congeries, with which in the old days Kevori was 
more or less constantly at enmity, in spite of a certain amount 
of intermarriage, and although certain Waima settlements 
were avowedly colonies from Kevori. Dr Strong ascertained 
that the Kevori settlements include Ereparu and Kevori, and 
that the latter is divided Into two groups called respectively 
Kevori Kone, that is Kevori-on-the-coast, and Kevori Gunekai, 
i.e. Kevori-In-the-bush. 

All the Waima villages with the exception of Araha 
Ereana are situated close to the coast, but the land belonging 
to them extends back almost as far as Bereina, a good hour's 
walk from the seashore, and formerly reached westwards to 
a place called Ovia Poklna, where Waima and Kevori faced 
6ach other, some three miles west of the present Waima 
settlements. The abandonment of Ovia Pokina is so recent, 
that a number of coconut palms still exist there, which be- 
longed to folk living in the present Waima villages, until they 
were sold to the Sacred Heart Mission. There too were 
buried the men of Waima who fell in the wars with Kevori, 
which by native computation took place some thirty to forty 
years ago, but it was clearly later than this that Waima ceased 
to use land at Ovia PokIna\ 

The villages or settlements of the Roro-speaking tribes 

^ Dr Strong points out that the last serious fight between Waima and Kevori 
took place in il 

198 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

mostly take the form of a double row of houses facing each 
other across a bare straight sandy space, some 30 feet broad, 
constituting the village street, and in the shore villages 
usually more or less parallel with the trend of the beach. 
Where two itsubu (clans) are represented in a village, the 
line dividing them usually runs at right angles to this street, 
at the opposite ends of which each itsubu generally has its 
7narea (clubhouse), each facing towards the centre of the 
village. Where there are more than two marea in a settle- 
ment, one or more of them are necessarily built among the 
houses bounding the street, when they are usually surrounded 
by the houses of the clan to which they belong. 

Architecturally the villages of the Roro-speaking tribes 
vary little from each other, appearing rather like Motu 
villages, except that no houses are built actually on the beach, 
or in the sea, and at Waima the houses are rarely raised on 
piles\ The houses are rectangular and oblong, and vary 
in size, but are usually about twice as long as they are broad. 
The thatch which slopes fairly steeply to within about 6 feet 
from the ground, comes down nearly vertically the rest of the 
way, and is carried round the back to make the rear wall. 
The front of the house is generally made of the midribs 
of sago leaves, and through this the entrance is cut so as 
to leave a raised sill. The door itself is usually made of two 
coconut palm leaves so plaited together as to form a flat 
piece of moderately stiff basket work ; the whole lies in one 
plane and so closes the doorway. 

Plate XXXII shows an unusual type of house photo- 
graphed at Waima in 1898 by the late Anthony Wilkin. 
Houses which when seen from the front resemble a beehive 
are not very uncommon at W^airna, though they are never 
circular. It is however very unusual for such houses to have 
an ornamental projection built round the ridge pole as in 
clubhouses^ I cannot give any information concerning this 
curious house but since the pole which supports the anterior 
projection of the roof has a carved and painted board 
attached to it, it is probable that the house belongs to a 

The Waima build such good fences that their gardens 
are pig-proof so long as the fences are in good repair. 

^ At Kevori too the houses are largely built on the ground. 
* Cf. chapter xx for decorated boards on the houses of chiefs. 

Plate XXXII 

House at Waima 


History 199 

A few of the houses in some villages are surrounded by- 
fences almost as stout and high as those protecting the 
gardens ; but some houses have only a low fence about 
18 inches high, and most have no fence at all. Houses with 
no fence may be surrounded by, or front upon, a small 
rectangle, marked out by lengths of bamboo laid on the sand, 
and kept in position by an occasional peg which appears 
to represent the area which is sometimes fenced in. 

The Roro-speaking tribes are each divided into a number 
of clans called itsMbii^ with descent in the male line, and whose 
members until recently adhered strictly to clan exogamy. 
Although there is not the least doubt that these itsubu are 
the units which correspond with the clans {iduhu) of the Motu 
and Koita tribes, the members of many of the local groups 
of Waima (and I believe of Kevori), show a strong tendency 
to consider and speak of themselves as forming a unit 
equivalent to an itsubu, although all the Waima settlements 
contain only a part, i.e. a local group of one, or rarely more 
than one itsubu. The feeling among the members of a 
strong local group that they are really the equivalent of the 
itsubu seemed to be particularly marked in the case of 
Roroaiera settlement, a local group of the Arabure itsubu 
of Waima, although this settlement is not obviously stronger 
than a number of other Waima settlements. 

At the present day a difference is noticeable in the 
grouping of the houses of the settlements or villages of the 
clans composing the Roro-speaking tribes, but this difference 
does not appear to be of long standing, or of great significance. 
In one series of communities which include Waima, Kevori 
and Bereina, the people live in a number of small settlements 
grouped more or less compactly within a limited area. The 
householders of each settlement in these tribes are usually 
members of a single itsubu, and so form a local group. As 
already stated, the folk of Kevori, constituting the greater 
portion of the Kevori tribe, are divided into two groups 
of settlements, one situated near the beach, the other a little 
way inland. In the case of the numerically weaker Roro 
and Paitana tribes whose habitations are spread over a 
considerable area, there is a tendency to form compact villages 
containing representatives of many clans, although settlements 
consisting entirely or dominantly of one clan also occur. 

Allusion has already been made on page 196 to the fact 

200 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

that the present village of Mou at one time consisted of a 
number of settlements, and it may be assumed that these 
were clan settlements. 


Roro. The names of the Roro clans are Ovia Pokina, 
Koae Kupunu, Parama Kupunu, Aitsi Noobera and Altsi 

The words pokina, kupunu, ovia, which occur frequently 
in the clan, and to a less extent in the geographical names 
of the Roro-speaking tribes, have the following meanings: 

Pokina — origin, beginning, and secondarily the steering 
paddle of a canoe. 

Kupunu — origin, root, the lower part of the trunk of 
a tree. 

Ovia — chief. 
Thus Ovia Pokina signifies the stock of the chief, Aitsi 
Kupunu the origin or stock of Aitsi (literally crawfish but 
also a widely distributed proper name). 

Siria is the largest and most important of the settlements 
of the Roro tribe, and is situated on Yule Island. At the 
extremity of the village, separated only by a shallow depression 
which in the rainy season becomes a small creek, lies a smaller 
settlement called Erierina which Is usually considered a portion 
of Siria ; and in this larger sense Siria contains representatives 
of each of the Roro clans, two of which, Aitsi Kupunu and 
Aitsi Noobera, are very small and weak. 

Pinupaka and Pokama villages each contain a portion 
of one clan, Parama Kupunu. 

Delena village, the mixed nature of the population of 
which has already been alluded to (footnote, p. 196) contains 
representatives of Koae Kupunu, Ovia Pokina and Aitsi 
Noobera clans. 

No information was obtained concerning the two-house 
settlement of Rerena, or concerning Baara. 

Paitana. The villages of the Paitana tribe are Mou, 
Rapa Bioto and Babiko the latter being sometimes known 
as Paitana. These four villages contain eleven clans the 

* The information given under this heading will also be found tabulated in the 
lists of the villa;jes, clans, clan-badges and club-houses of the Roro-speaking tribes 
given at the end of chapter xx. 

Distribution of Clans 201 

names of which are Mou, Paitana, Korena, Altsi Kupunu, 
Mainahauna, Meauri, Watiwati, Ovia Pokina, Sivotaina, 
Akavaru and Bereina. Like the Roro, the Paitana build 
their houses upon piles usually from 3 to 5 feet high. Mou, 
the largest and most important of the Paitana villages, 
contains seven itsiibu. These are Mou, Herina, Korena, 
Mainahauna, Paitana, Mare Kupunu, and Ure Kupunu. 
The two latter are derived from two brothers of an itsubu 
called Aitsi Kupunu, and these clans, probably immigrant 
and of Roro origin, are even now often called by the common 
name Aitsi Kupunu. 

At Babiko village there are three itsubu : Ovia Pokina, 
Bereina, and Watewate. Separated by a few steps from the 
rest of Babiko, but generally included with it by the natives 
of the district, is the settlement of Meauri, a split from the 
itsubu of that name in Rapa village. The latter village was 
not visited but Dr Strong gives the names of its itsubu as 
Ovia Pokina, Sivotaina, Meauri and Akabara, the last an 
immigrant group from the Kuni tribe living in the mountains 
behind Mekeo. 

The people of Bioto village originally came from Paitana 
village-site, but before settling at Bioto they lived for some 
time on a limestone ridge near the mouth of the Bioto creek. 
This ridge, called Uaiiauona, is practically converted into an 
island by the Ufafa river and the mangrove swamps which 
surround it. Bioto contains four itsubu, namely Meauri, 
Korina, Watewate, and Paitana ; the representatives of these 
itsubu came to Bioto in the order in which their names are 
given. Dr Strong, who supplied the information concerning 
Bioto, points out that Paitana can hardly have been deserted 
more than fifty or sixty years ago, since one old man of 
Paitana itsubu is still alive who lived at Paitana village as 
a boy. 

Waima. Excluding for the moment certain Kevori 
colonies settled at Waima, which will be referred to later, 
the Waima folk derive their descent from four original stocks 
called Ereere, Hauramiri, Arabure, and Abiara, and these 
stocks have given their names to the present Waima itsubu, 

Ereere is said to have been originally an off-shoot from 
the people whose present village site is Bereina, but who 
long ago lived further inland than the present Bereina. 

Hauramiri is usually regarded as an independent stock, 

202 The Roro-speakmg Tribes 

but certain of my informants stated that ' long, long ago ' 
it was united with Ereere. 

Arabure is sometimes stated to have been an offshoot 
from the Kevori clan of that name, but the split took place 
so long ago that Arabure is usually considered one of the 
original Waima stocks, and not regarded as originating from 
Kevori, as are certain more recent colonies from that tribe. 
The settlements derived from the four original Waima stocks, 
now the Waima itsubu, are as follows : 

Ereere stock {itsubu) gave rise to Ereere, Arabu Kupunu, 
Ereere Aiera, Ehoho and Tonauna. Hauramiri stock 
{itsubu) gave rise to the settlements of Aihoa Kupunu, 
Abotaiara, Abotaiara Koikoi, Hauramiri Ororo Pokina, Hau- 
ramiri Koko, Taroba and Oa Ovia. 

Aihoa Kupunu, Abotaiara, Abotaiara Koikoi and Taroba, 
each contain portions of the single itsubu Hauramiri. Oa 
Ovia settlement and Hauramiri each contain two local groups 
who, although both sprung from the original Hauramiri stock, 
call themselves two itsubu named respectively, Hauramiri 
Koko and Hauramiri Oki Pokina. Hauramiri settlement 
contains in addition a number of folk descended from the 
Ereere stock, who form a local group called Hauramiri 
Ereere, whose members consider themselves almost an 
independent itsubu. 

A second small settlement of Aihoa Kupunu lies to the 
west of Ereere. It consists of but six houses, all rather 
poorly built, and contains no marea. Its members, who split 
from the parent village by reason of a quarrel about a woman, 
still acknowledge the chieftainship of Makani Bio, the chief 
of Aihoa Kupunu. 

Arabure stock {itsubu) gave rise to the settlements of 
Roro Aiera including Roro Aiera Koikoi, Arabure, Arabure 
Ororo Pokina, Herahera, Robaiarobaia, Puro Erau, Komo 

Roro Aiera contains representatives of two itsubu, viz. 
Arabure and Abiara. Roro Aiera Koikoi consists of a small 
number of rather badly built houses and is perhaps not a 
permanent settlement. It arose as an agglomeration of garden 
houses, built by folk not closely related to each other, shordy 
after the old village of Korina, which stood nearer the shore 
than the present village, had been overwhelmed by a tidal 
wave. Three men, all said to be more or less important, 

Distribution of Clans 203 

used to go and sleep in their garden houses because they 
were frightened of the sea, and after a while one of them 
named Here Arauka persuaded the others to stay there 
permanently and make a small village. This they did, and 
though there have been no fresh accessions from the parent 
settlement, the children of the original founders have remained 
and built their houses on the new site. 

The Abiara stock {itsubu) came originally from Oroi, 
a now deserted village site between Waima and Bereina, 
and not far from the latter. Like Waima, whose dialect it 
spoke and with whose people it freely intermarried, Abiara 
was more or less constantly at enmity with Kevori. 

The Abiara stock gave rise to the settlements of Barai 
Kupunu, Paru Kupunu, Roio Kupunu, Barai Kupunu of Abiara 
and Araha Ereana, the last being a recent settlement from 
Barai Kupunu. It was said to lie east of the other Waima 
settlements at a little distance from the beach, but so surrounded 
by swamp as not to be readily reached. 

Kevori furnished colonies to Waima, as has been already 
stated, but it is extremely difficult to estimate how much of 
Waima is of Kevori origin. Two settlements, Korina and 
Taroba, are somewhat recent colonies from Kevori, and it 
is said that a Kevori element entered into Ereere ; while it 
is alleged by some that Arabure was originally a Kevori stocks 

Bereina. Bereina village, situated a few miles inland 
from Waima, consists of four itsubu called Koae Kupunu, 
Paitana, Aihoa Kupunu and Ereere, inhabiting three settle- 
ments quite close together. Two of the settlements Aitsi 
Benuna and Komana — the latter consisting only of some 
seven houses with no marea — belong to Koae Kupunu itsubu, 
while the remaining settlement of Eauna contains men belong- 
ing to Paitana, Ereere and Aihoa Kupunu itsubu. 

Kevori. As already mentioned the villages of the 
Kevori tribe are Ereparu and Kevori, the latter divided 
into two groups, Kevori Gunikai, that is Kevori-in-the-bush, 
and Kevori Kone, Kevori-on-the-coast. Dr Strong gives 
the itsubu of Kevori Gunikai as Kevori, Arabu Kupunu, 
Ovia Pokina, Uai Kupunu and Arabure. Kevori Kone is 
a younger settlement than Kevori Gunikai from which it 
sprang and its itsubu are Avepa, Herehauwana, Abiara, 
Napuaemena, Aiyo and Kui. 

1 There is an Arabure clan or stock at Kevori at the present time. 

204 ^^^^ RorO'Speaking Tribes 


The Roro-speaking tribes are not great traders, and 
their relations with other tribes appear always to have 
been limited. Canoes are made locally both at Siria and 
Walma, and probably at other villages of the Roro-speaking 
tribes, but they are also bought from the Toaripi. Further, 
one tribe, the Roro, have learnt from the Motu to build 
Lakatoi as they have to make pots, and one lakatoi called 
by the Roro-speaking tribes au nohi usually starts each year 
from Yule Island for ToarIpI\ Besides this, Waima has for 
long done a small coastal trade with the Papuan Gulf, taking 
especially shell ornaments, which come from further east, and 
the locally made fretted turtle shell ornaments called koiyu. 
The shell ornament called by the Motu tautau, and made to 
the east of the Motu territory, e.g. at Hulaa, is called at 
Waima mobio, or movio, and this ornament reaches the Roro- 
speaking tribes from Port Moresby and the neighbouring 
settlements as do some of the much valued armshells made 
from the shell of Conus maculatus and called tola. Indeed 
all the armshells which reach the Roro-speaking tribes are 
made In the east, though the majority travel by an indirect 
route, reaching them from the Papuan Gulf, whither they are 
taken by the Motu to exchange for sago on their annual 
trading voyage. Sometimes a Waima double-canoe bearing 
a cargo of coconuts may visit Port Moresby. 

The members of the Mekeo and the Roro-speaking tribes 
exchange garden produce for fish and shellfish, usually meeting 
at specially appointed market-places about midway between 
the two districts. Besides this, the Roro-speaking tribes 
formerly obtained practically their whole supply of adze 
blades, clubheads and dancing feathers through Mekeo, for 
although there Is abundant evidence that the mountaineers 
who made these articles, or obtained them from their makers, 
came to Kabadi on trading expeditions, it seemed that they 
never pjassed through Mekeo so as to trade with the Roro- 
speaking tribes directly. 

^ The whole conduct of this expedition is so like that of the Motu hiri^ already 
described by Captain Barton in chapter viii, that it has been thought unnecessary 
to give a detailed account of the voyage of the au nohi and the customs observed 
on it. 

External Relations 205 

The intercourse of the Roro-speaking tribes and Mekeo 
is not confined to trade, for there is a Hmited amount 
of intermarriage, though in the old days this bond was not 
sufficiently strong to prevent numerous petty wars between 
Mekeo on the one side, and Roro, Paitana and Waima on 
the other. Even individual villages of Mekeo sometimes 
come to blows with these tribes ; but none of this fighting 
appears to have been very serious, except perhaps that which 
drove the Roro and Paitana from Maiera, and even in this 
instance it is probable that the unhealthiness of the crowded 
site was to some extent responsible for the migration. An 
exception is found, however, in the former enmity between 
Waima and Kevori, which appears to have been more 
constant than most of the feuds of the Roro-speaking peoples. 
Apart from this the only serious attacks to which any of the 
Roro-speaking folk were exposed were those delivered by 
the Elema tribes of the Papuan Gulf. It has already been 
noted on page 196 that some forty years ago the people of 
Mou, then settled at Ararana, were attacked and suffered 
great loss at the hands of Gulf natives, while more recently 
almost the whole population of Paitana village was killed in 
a carefully planned night attack delivered by the men of 
Lese, one of the most eastern of the Elema communities^ 

There was an old-standing friendship between certain 
Roro-speaking villages and the Nara village Oroi^ a friendship 
in which all the Nara villages were not included and which 
appears to have been especially firm between Waima and 
Oroi. Parties of Waima folk would visit Oroi for weeks at 
a time to hunt wallaby on the grassy uplands of Nara, paying 
their hosts in coconuts ; and Poa Oa, one of the deftest 
woocj carvers of Waima, carved certain of the posts of the 
big loe (clubhouse) built on the Waima model, which until 
recently stood in the village of Diumana, a few miles be- 
yond Oroi. 

Those neighbouring villages with which the Roro-speaking 
tribes were on terms of intimacy (which intimacy did not, 
however, formerly preclude intermittent petty warfare), are 
probably fairly represented by the villages from which, it was 

1 A rather vivid account of this attack is given by Chalmers in Pioneering in 
New Guinea^ pp. 330-4. 

2 Often called Nara and perhaps best known as the village of the chieftainess 

2o6 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

stated, guests would be invited to come to the inauguration 
of the big new niarea of Mou clan of Mou village. This list 
includes all the villages of Roro and Paitana, Waima (but not 
its colony Hisiu), Bereina, Kevori and Delena, the Mekeo 
villages of Veifa, Aipiana, Eboa, Inawabui, Inawi and Inawaia 
and the Nara village Oroi but not the neighbouring villages 
of Alaala and Diumana. 



Within certain limits prescribed by custom, the members 
of each itsubu — and its members only — have the right to 
wear on their persons, on certain ceremonial occasions, and 
to display on their marea, certain designs or objects which 
when so used or displayed are regarded by the natives as 
distinctive clan badges, called by the Roro-speaking tribes 
dada. Although it appeared that among these tribes all native 
dada were in a broad sense the property of groups of individuals 
of common descent, the term was extended to objects which 
distinguish or betoken various classes of Europeans. Thus 
the cross is regarded as the bada of the Sacred Heart Mission 
settled in the district, and the blue ensign as that of the 

This need not be considered to imply that the Roro- 
speaking tribes consider all missionaries or Government officers 
as of common descent, for although the word dada is commonly 
used to mean badge or sign, it has a wider significance to 
the native mind, and is sometimes applied to a whole group 
of customs distinguishing one set of people from another. 
Very little information could be obtained concerning the 
origin of dada ; a legend which states how in the beginning 
one of the Roro dada was associated with a certain clubhouse 
is given in chapter xx. 

The most important dada are undoubtedly (i) the feather 
and other ornaments worn when dancing on ceremonial occa- 
sions, and (ii) the designs carved on the end of poles, precisely 
as the Koita carve their iduhu dagi (cf page 51). But as 
the use and importance of such wooden dada is slight, except 
in connection with the marea, these will be fully discussed 
under the heading ' Qada in relation to the marea in chapter 
XX and it is only necessary here to call attention to figure 1 5 (a) 


The Roro-speaking Tribes 

and {b) of certain dada of this class representing respectively 
the head and jaws of a kind of garfish called akumu, and the 
tail of another fish called paia. In no case is any special 
regard shown for the animal from which a clan derives its 
oada ; thus both the Roro and Paitana men of itsubu having 
the fishes akiwm and paia as their oada, eat them freely and 
the men of the Abotaiara settlement at Waima eat their dada, 
the hornbill. 

The dada, which are commonly worn on important cere- 


HI ill 

Fig. 15. 



(a) (b) 

Oada of the Roro-speaking tribes. 

monial occasions, generally consist of extremely elaborate 
feather head-dresses used with or without the addition of one 
or more of the beautiful fretted turtle-shell ornaments made 
in this district and called koiyu. On the other hand the dada 
may be some perfectly simple, common and widely distri- 
buted object worn in a particular manner, thus the mandibles 
of the hornbill become an dada when worn in the manner 

Clan Badges 


peculiar to the members of the Abotalara settlement of 
Waima, that is just above the forehead in the median line of 
the head and pointing vertically upwards, although in other 

Fig. 16. Framework worn to support feather oaoa. 

S. N. G. 


2IO The Roro-speaking Tribes 

Waima settlements the mandibles of the hornblll are com- 
monly worn as an ornament, and are devoid of any special sig- 
nificance. The two figures of Plate XXXIII reproduced from 
photographs taken by the Rev. H. M. Dauncey are examples 
of daiki in the form of elaborate feather-dancing headdresses 
such as are w^orn by the Roro-speaking tribes, but unfortu- 
nately I cannot identify the particular itsitbu to which they 
belong. The feathers composing them are mounted on a 
frame of wood or cane w^hich is adapted to fit the wearer's 
head and shoulders (figure i6). 

The following information concerning the feather dada 
of the Roro clans of Yule Island was obtained from a man 
named Aitsi Bera of Siria village. 

Ovia Pokina. The feathers worn by this itsubu were 
mounted on a framework called uria, shown in figure i6. 
Attached to this might be worn two or three small wooden 
carvings of the conventional aku7nu jaw pattern. The whole 
arrangement appears to have been called ibiri paia. 

Parama Kupunu. A differently arranged framework 
called ovie was used as a base for the feather headdress of this 
clan. Small fiat slabs of wood carved in the manner shown 
in figure 15 {b) and called /^^'^ might be attached to the ome. 

Koae Kupunu. This itsiibit mounts its feathers in a 
radiating manner on a fanlike basis of cane or wood. 

Aitsi Noobira. This clan employs a bifid frame called 
mahana rua (literally, two eyes) upon which feathers are 
mounted. The small slabs of wood Q,2S[^di paia may also enter 
into the composition of the headdress. 

Oada are also represented on Kaivakuku masks, one of 
the false cloisso7is on these masks representing the design \ 
Again, minor but distinctive architectural details of dwelling- 
houses may be regarded as baoa, and cannot be copied by folk 
of other itsMbit or local groups without offence. Thus when 
the men of Pinupaka village recently built some houses in 
which the gable ends crossed each other at the roof ridge, 
and were prolonged for a short distance upwards and out- 
wards, the men of the Marehau itsubu settled at Delena (who 
habitually build their houses in that fashion), complained 
that Pinupaka was infringing their rights. 

^ Plate XLI shows three kaivakuku masks in the special hut in which they 
were kept at Hisiu, but I cannot say whether any of the cloissons on these 
represent oaba or whether the feather ornaments or hornblll mandibles have this 
significance ; for matters connected with the kaivakuku^ cf. chapter XXIV. 



Clan Badges 2 1 1 


It seems probable that among the Roro-speaking tribes 
da'da retaining their full value as such might be sold, as are 
the kangakanga of the Mekeo tribes; indeed it is practically 
certain that at one time, patterns carved in low relief upon 
certain boards, which were recognized as hereditary oada in 
the families of chiefs, were bought and sold (cf pp. 242 to 244). 
In these instances, as in the case of the ka^igakanga of Mekeo, 
although the right to the use of the oada was extended to 
people not originally possessing it, this extension occurred in a 
limited and particular manner, which is very different from 
the condition of decay which allows conventional representa- 
tions or derivatives of the oada scratched on wooden or bone 
utensils to be used as the scheme of decoration, regardless of 
the stock or settlement of the folk making or using them. 

At Waima a number of patterns admittedly derived from 
the hornbill — the oada of the people of a number of settle- 
ments of certain itsttbu — are used by any itsubu as decorative 
schemes upon such bone utensils as spatulae and forks, 
although these patterns have kept their especial character as 
distinguishing marks of different itsubu in the marea, where 
they are carved upon the capitals of posts. The usual decora- 
tion upon the bone implement called hau a7ii (figure 17), 
used for removing the interior of a coconut, is an example 
of this. 

These A-shaped marks exactly resemble the A-shaped marks 
on the side posts of Airava 7narea of Abotaiara settlement, 
and both were said to be derived from the marks on the 
beak of the hornbill. Although nearly all such coconut 
scrapers have similar marks on them, it was stated by 
Abotaiara men that such markings are truly the property of 
Abotaiara, and that strictly speaking the folk of other settle- 
ments have no right to copy them. From a number of 
scrapers shown to him, an Abotaiara man selected two, which 
had been most carefully finished, and claimed that these were 
of Abotaiara make, while the other rougher examples were 
copies; but whatever may once have been the case, it is 
certain that there is now no effective copyright in this pattern 
upon bone implements such as hau ani, and lime spatulae. 

The occurrence of the crocodile upon the posts of many 

14 — 2 


The Roro-speaking Tribes 

7narea Is another instance of the degradation of an dada to 
the position of an ornament. The crocodile is the dada of 
the Roroaiera local group of Arabure itsubu, and it was 
generally agreed that stricdy speaking the crocodile should 
only appear on the Roroaiera marea. In spite of this not 

only are crocodiles carved in the vtarea 
of unrelated local groups, but Poa Oa who 
was the hereditary carver of the Roroaiera 
local group did not hesitate to carve the 
crocodile on the posts of the Diumana 
clubhouse belonging to a neighbouring 
friendly peopled 

The designs carved in turtle-shell, 
which when mounted on a piece of white 
shell of Melo diadema, constitute the 
beautiful ornament called koiyu, were also 
said to be clan property, though it is pro- 
bable that at the present day no maker 
limits himself to one design. 

Considering the examples of the de- 
cay of the dada just recorded, it is not 
surprising to find that it is often difficult 
to discover the dada of a particular local 
group. This is especially true at Waima, 
where partial and often temporary fusions 
of groups of diverse origin (the results 
of quarrels within a clan or local group) 
appear to have been common. Hisiu, a 
Waima colony, is a good example of this ; 
Dr Strong was told that it consisted of 
families from Korina, Ereere and Roro- 
aiera settlements, who formed fresh settle- 
ments, i.e. local groups. There are in 
addition representatives of Arabure and 
Hauramiri itsubu, the latter with certain 
members of the Komo Kupunu settlement united with fami- 
lies (?) called Ere Kupunu and Opi Kupunu to constitute a 
settlement, apparently regarded as a local group called Komo 


Fig. 17. Hail ani 
with head carved to re- 
present the markings on 
the base of the hornbill's 

^ A man who carves specially well will generally train his son or his sister's 
son, so that the position tends to become hereditary. The paternal uncle of Poa 
Oa taught the latter who taught his son, who says that he will in turn instruct his 
son when he is old enough. 

Clan Badges 213 

Kupunu. Like the Waima parent settlement of Komo Ku- 
punu, the daughter settlement has a marea called Airava and 
airava (the hornbill) as its dada. This bird is the dada of the 
settlements of Arabure itsubu (Waima) and also of a number 
of the settlements of Hauramiri itsubu (Waima), but if Eri 
Kupunu and Opi Kupunu families (?) in time to come exhibit 
their dada — assumed not to be the hornbill — on the marea it 
is easy to see how confused the dada of the Hisiu settlement 
of Komo Kupunu may become. 

The instance just quoted is comparatively simple, but in 
some cases there seems to be a bewildering multiplicity of 
dada, the relationship of which it is not always possible to 

This condition does not, as far as my experience goes, pre- 
vail in the Roro tribe, but it is especially marked at Waima so 
that the Waima dada, given in the list at the end of chapter xx, 
must be accepted with this reserve. Sometimes an dada is 
given because there was a consensus of opinion among my 
informants in favour of its being the dada of the clan, though 
there was often evidence suggesting the actual or former 
existence of other dada of less importance. Probably the 
same condition will be found to exist at Kevori, and perhaps 
to a lesser extent at Mou. At Waima, and doubtless at 
Kevori also, there is another fact to be considered which has 
probably had even more effect in confusing dada than the 
frequent partial splittings and fusions to which allusion has 
been made. This fact is the proximity of the powerful Elema 
stock of the Papuan Gulf who have exerted an obvious 
physical and cultural influence on the folk of Waima and 
Kevori. In a short account given by Captain Barton of the 
Social System of the Gulf village of Lese, each clan has 
a number of tcalare, mostly animals, representations of which 
are exhibited outside the clubhouses (eravo). The represent- 
ations of these ualare, themselves certainly totems, may be 
regarded as clan badges, and it seems likely that their number 
and prominence on the Elema clubhouses has led to the 
multiplication of dada in the Waima 7narea. That the re- 
markable decoration of the Elema clubhouses has actually 
influenced a people less closely connected with the Gulf than 
Waima is shown by the decorations, typical of Elema, ex- 
hibited upon the clubhouse of the Mekeo village of Aipiana. 
The photograph of this clubhouse, reproduced in Plate XLV, 

214 ^/^^ Roro-speaking Tribes 

was taken by Captain Barton who stated that the Aipiana 
men avowedly imitated the decoration of an Elema clubhouse 
on account of its beauty and attractiveness, although they 
possessed only the most general knowledge of the significance 
of the ornaments they had adopted. 


Besides such important clan-badges as the carvings ex- 
hibited on viarea and the feather headdresses used in cere- 
monial dances, there are a number of customs and methods 
of performing the common acts of life which are peculiar to 
certain groups of men, and which, in the broad sense, noted 
on page 207, are regarded as dada, although many of these 
acts and customs shade off imperceptibly into matters which 
are not oaoa. 

Although it could not be satisfactorily determined whether 
canoe names are really regarded as oaoa, each itsubu or local 
group of the Roro and Paitana tribes seems to have the 
exclusive right to a particular name for its canoes, all of 
which are called by the same name. 

The following information supplied by Dr Strong applies 
specifically to Waima, which, as already noted, consists of 
some twenty distinct settlements belonging to four itsubu. 
Here the common canoe name is limited to the canoes of each 
settlement, and with each name is associated a particular sign 
or badge ; the majority of canoe names appear to be the 
names of fish, thus, pehera the swordfish, and nepuwai the 
name of another fish are both canoe names, as are also the 
names of some birds, e.g. inanukai, a kind of pigeon \ It is 
noticeable that of these canoe names nepiiwai is also the 
name of a marea (clubhouse). It was said that the majority of 
canoe names had been bought or stolen from the Motu: one 
canoe name veregai almost suggests vanagai, which is the 
Motu word for an ordinary outrigger canoe. 

It is obvious that these canoe names, if not oaoa in the 
strictest sense, approach very near to them, for their use by 
people of foreign itsubu would be resented. But so would the 
performance of a dance by unauthorised folk, for all dances 

^ It must be remembered that most of the Waima settlements are local groups, 
and there is little doubt that each canoe name is in fact limited to the craft of a 
local group, or perhaps of a number of local groups belonging to a single itsubu. 

Clan Badges 215 

were strictly copyright, and the property of larger or smaller 
groups of people, and it is clear that it is sometimes difficult 
to distinguish between property and dada, and this is especially 
the case with the names of certain classes of objects such as 
nets and weapons. Fishing nets are certainly named among 
the Roro-speaking tribes, and I believe, but am not certain, 
that these names are private rather than family property. 

Dr Strong discovered that at Walma there are also bow 
and arrow names which are not strictly private property, 
though whether these names, which may certainly be bought, 
sold or stolen, are looked upon as dada is not quite clear. 
The names are usually those of fish bearing one or more 
sharp spines, or of thorny trees; thus basika, a fish with a 
strong sharp spine, gives its name to the bows and arrows 
belonging to a group representing either a family or local 
group of the Ereere itsubii of Waima. Other bow and arrow 
names are Taivai and Boihoa, the names of fish with three 
and two dorsal spines respectively. As instances of bow 
and arrow names derived from thorny plants may be quoted 
Rabia, also the name of the sago palm, the leaf stalks of one 
species of which are set with sharp thorns and Amaama, the 
name of a thorny tree. Some bow and arrow names are 
derived from the names of ^medicine' which is rubbed on 
the arrows in order to make them deadly, thus dota, a plant 
which grows among the mangroves and is rubbed on arrows, 
is also a bow and arrow name. It must be remembered that 
the use of the bow has been introduced into the Roro district 
from the neighbourhood of Toaripi, in the Papuan Gulf, and 
it was said that bow and arrow names, too, had all been bought 
or stolen from the Toaripi. 

Spears may also be given names derived from 'medicine' 
rubbed on them to make them go straight, and the spear 
name Boborabi was said to be so derived'. Successful bow 
and arrow names may be bought, and the same applies to 
spear names, though it seems that the names applied to spears 
are individual and not common to all the spears of a given 
family, local group or itsubu. 

1 Boborabi is also the name of the paiha marea (cf. chapter xx) of the Arabu 
Kupunu settlement of Waima. 



In each itsubit, or in each local group of an itsubu, there is 
a head man or chief called the ovia itsipana, and next to him 
in dignity comes a second chief called the ovia awarina who, 
besides fulfilling certain functions of his own, enforces the 
orders of the ovia itsipana when necessary. It was, however, 
pointed out that a few weak itsubu had no acknowledged ovia 

The titles ovia itsipana and ovia awarina mean 'chief 
of the right' and 'chief of the left' respectively. Both offices 
are hereditary, and these titles express, and have perhaps 
been derived from, the positions assumed by their respective 
bearers to the right and left of the median line of the clan 
clubhouse (marea) during all important ceremonies. 

Besides taking the principal part in all ceremonies in 
which more than one itsubu is involved, the ovia itsipana of 
any of the contending clans had the right of stopping faction 
fights in his village. Subjects likely to lead to minor quarrels 
in the village were not brought to him for settlement, but as 
soon as a few blows had been struck he would interfere, the 
fighting would generally cease, the matter be discussed and 
terms usually arranged. The most prominent ovia itsipana, 
who was in practice the chief of the strongest clan, would 
have the right of stopping fights between usually friendly 
tribes or villages. He would, also, in the event of his people 
not wishing to fight, use his influence to settle quarrels 
which might lead to such somewhat formal fights as occurred 
between the Roro and the Paitana tribes. To stop a fight 
it was sufficient for any ovia itsipana to get between the 
combatant lines, scatter lime from his gourd, and wave the 
leafy crown of a dracaena\ If an ovia itsipa7ia of one faction 

' The success of this manceuvre would, however, largely depend on the influence 
exercised by the ovia itsipana and his discretion in applying it at the right moment. 

Chieftainship 2 1 7 

did this, it was etiquette for an opposing ovia itsipana to 
assist in the task of pacification by following his example. 
If a village were invaded by the men of a usually friendly 
community demanding payment for blood shed, the most 
prominent ovia itsipana of the invaded village would, if peace 
were desired, advance to meet the invaders. He would 
carry a spear but also his lime gourd and mahawa, the 
netted bag in which a native carries his most cherished 
trifles and often his most valuable ornaments; and he would 
also wear armshells as a sign of peace. He would be met by 
the ovia itsipana of the opposing party to whom he would 
tender his spear, which the invading chief would break. He 
would similarly break the invading chief's spear and matters 
would then be discussed and a satisfactory settlement usually 
arrived at. 

Each ovia itsipana had the right to pronounce a taboo on 
the coconuts belonging to the local group of his itsubu, but 
this was not done without previous consultation with the 
old men. 

The ovia awarina exercised to a certain extent the 
functions of a substitute for the ovia itsipana when the latter 
was away, and might even be left in charge of a settlement 
indefinitely (as e.g. the result of a split), though he was 
supposed to consult his ovia itsipana before taking any de- 
cisive step. Thus Arua Baki, the present ovia itsipana of 
Herehauwana itsubu of Korina settlement of Waima, lives at 
Taroba; while the ovia awarina lives at Korina and to a 
certain degree replaces his chief in that village, but when 
a taboo had recently to be proclaimed on the Korina coconuts 
it could not be done until Arua Baki had been consulted. 
The ovia awarina was responsible for the policing of the 
village, and endeavoured to prevent petty thefts and to adjust 
quarrels arising from that cause. 

In each Roro-speaking community there are one or more 
war-chiefs who are leaders of their clan or community in war, 
but who must not be confused with the paiha chiefs who are 
experts in battle magic and who assure success in war. It 
was difficult to obtain details concerning these war chiefs 
(ovia ahuahtc), who, however, were never clan chiefs {pvia 
itsipana), but on the other hand were generally though per- 
haps not invariably ovia awarina\ indeed, ovta awarina as 
such were so generally confused with ovia aJmaJm that it is 

2i8 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

a question whether every ovia awarina was not formerly a 
potential or actual war chief. Each ovia akuahu has, or had 
in his capacity of war chief, a marea which differs in certain 
features from other marea (cf. chapter xx) and which should 
be distinct from the rnarea which an ovia awarina in his 
official capacity (as ovia awarina) may have or share with his 
ovia it sip ana. 

In the Roro and Waima tribes and probably also among 
the Paitana, each ovia itsipana might have an assistant who, 
although the office is often if not always hereditary, has not 
the rank of a chief It appeared that these assistants were 
generally men of some wealth and influence and that the 
office was considered a desirable one. As far as I could 
ascertain the only duties of the incumbent are to be near his 
chief and prepared to render assistance in all ceremonies 
in the clubhouse, and generally to save him trouble and see 
that things go smoothly. Often the ovia awarina would also 
have an assistant of this class. 

Although the ovia ahuahu was the organizer of his clan 
in war, it appears that his authority on the battle field was 
entirely subordinated to that of the paiha chief or chiefs, 
who appeared to be responsible for the disposition of the 
whole force while in the presence of the enemy. This, how- 
ever, only applied to serious intertribal warfare; in faction 
fights and quarrels between groups generally on friendly 
terms the paiha chief was not consulted, the ovia ahuahu 
being the leader of the war party. In spite of the import- 
ance of the paiha chiefs in intertribal warfare the larger 
question of the expediency of undertaking any given plan 
of campaign or policy was discussed by the old men of the 
village and settled with the concurrence of the ovia itsipana'^. 

Invitations to important feasts are always given in the 
name of the ovia itsipana, the invitations being issued as 
follows : two or three weeks before a feast the ovia itsipana 
instructs the ovia awarina to send round messengers to 
invite the chiefs of the neighbouring itsubu, and it is an 

^ The paiha chiefs here referred to, besides being leaders in the field, are 
experts in the maj^ic ceremonial pertaining to the successful conduct of war, and 
as such their functions are discussed in the section on Magic and Sorcery (cf. 
chapter xxiv), but it must be noted that apart from their magical functions paiha 
chiefs are either ovia iisipana or ovia awarina, and therefore in their double 
capacity would exert a particularly strong influence in the village councils when 
matters connected with warfare were being discussed. 

Chieftainship 2 1 9 

essential part of the invitation that the messengers should 
take with them bunches of areca nut, and hang one of these 
In the marea of the ovia itsipana of each of the local groups 
of the itsubu summoned to the feast, at the same time stating 
when the feast will take place. Although the Invitation is 
formally conveyed only to the ovia itsipana it Is understood 
to apply also to as many of his clansmen as care to come 
with him. 

All big feasts are given In the name of the two chiefs 
of the clan providing the food, but smaller feasts may be 
given In the name of one of the chiefs. The chief or chiefs 
whose names are attached to a feast, distribute the food, but 
do not themselves eat of it although they ceremonially taste 
the food before it is allotted. In this distribution the chiefs 
of visiting itsubu (in order of their importance) are given the 
head or half the head, the hams, and the forelimbs of the pigs 
killed for the feast. 

Parama Kupunu Is looked upon as being the oldest 
Roro itsubu, and before the advent of the government It 
was probably the strongest. Its ovia itsipana exercised a 
certain authority over the whole of the Roro tribe, and was 
known as ovia pakana kauna, literally ' big chief man.' Now 
that there are no weighty problems of war and peace to be 
discussed his influence has much diminished; but he still 
takes precedence at feasts, and might ask the ovia itsipana 
of other villages to taboo their coconuts in preparation for 
a feast. 

Besides the ovia itsipana and ovia awarina there is a 
dignitary called ovia akiva or 'chief of the knife' who cere- 
monially cuts up the pigs at big feasts, although he does not 
assist In killing or cooking them. He is of far less import- 
ance than the ovia awarina, and indeed can scarcely be 
considered a chief in the true sense of the word, but rather 
as an hereditary office-bearer, having a special ceremonial 
function, in fact, as a carving expert. There is generally but 
one ovia akiva for several itsubu, and at the present day there 
is but one for a number,, of, or perhaps all, the itsubic of the 
Paitana tribe. 

The magic chiefs called paiha ovia are so obviously 
looked upon as magical 'departmental experts' that paiha 
matters are discussed in chapter xxiv which deals with magic. 

Chieftainship, whether 'of the right,' 'of the left,' or 

220 The RorO'Speakmg Tribes 

'of war' and the akiva function, is hereditary, and as far as 
possible passes from father to son. If an ovia itsipana has 
no son, his eldest daughter may and often does act until her 
eldest son is old enough to assume office. The ovia akiva of 
a number of vlllao-es of the Paitana tribe Is a woman who will 


transmit the office to her son\ When a woman is ovia itsipana 
or ovia akiva, she does not herself enter the marea or take any 
part in the ceremonies which centre round It, her husband 
or son taking her place on the marea, and at all festivals, 
although the invitations are issued In her name. A woman 
could not be ovia awarina, since In the old days the ovia 
aiva7'i7ta had practically always killed his man and was usually, 
If not Invariably, the leader of his clan in war. Among 
the Paitana, and presumably among the other Roro-speaking 
tribes, when the direct male line of the ovia awarina died 
out a substitute would be sought in the person of his brother, 
or failing this, the brother of an ovia awarina of the same 
itsiibu of another village. Although a man might admittedly 
be heir to a chieftainship, he would not be recognized as chief 
on the death of his father, unless he had taken part in the 
ceremony called at Siria bearai, which qualified him for the 


The most important feature of the qualifying ceremony 
which usually takes place before the young chiefs have reached 
puberty is the public Investiture of the youths with the eaii 
rove, the ornament which only chiefs may wear. This is done 
In the clubhouse of one of the chiefs whose son is qualified 
by the ceremony. 

The eaii rove consists essentially of a double row of boar 
tusks ground thin, though these themselves may be variously 
ornamented. This ornament, shown in figure i8, Is worn 
suspended on the chest by a string passing round the neck. 
Further, a chief will sometimes carve a representation of the 
eaii rove on the main pole of his marea. Thus at Pinupaka, 
the human face carved on the main pole of Kevori marea 
represents the face of the ovia itsipana of the marea, and 

' A different custom appears to prevail at Waima where Dr Strong was told 
that when an ovia akiva died, leaving no sons but one or more daughters, these 
would be passed over, and his brother would become ovia akiva. 




a series of curved lines beneath the face represent his eaii 


Fig. 1 8. Eaii rove J the insignium of chieftainship. 

The houses of chiefs have names of their own, which 
should be distinct from the names of the clubhouses of the 

222 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

clan and. the name of the clan itself. There is, however, 
a tendency to confuse the names of chiefs' houses with those 
of clubhouses. Dr Strong, who inquired into this matter, 
found that the names of chiefs' houses might be the names 
of hills, or might be derived from the names of particular 
areas, which it may be suggested are the sites of land originally 
owned by the clan. The following are the examples of the 
names of chiefs' houses which, he states, are stricdy hereditary 
and are never bought or sold: Araburepaka, i.e. 'the great 
Arabure,' Erumiri, Makabiri, and Muniavi. 

Plate XXXIV 

A marea at Waima 



Each local group of each clan has, or should have, at 
least one marea, which serves as the meeting place for the 
men of the local group, and is their clubhouse in the fullest 
sense of the term. Though varying in size and in the amount 
of care lavished on their decoration, niarea are always built 
on a perfectly definite though somewhat complicated plan. 

A marea is always built on piles, and must have at its 
front an unroofed platform raised 2 — 4 feet from the ground ; 
behind this, except in very small ina7'ea, there is another 
platform raised from a few inches to two feet higher than the 
first. A bare couch or bench about four feet wide runs at 
a comfortable sitting height along the sides and back of this 
platform. At the back, this bench Is continuous with the 
floor of the Inner compartment of the marea, which is separated 
from the outside platforms by a partition reaching to the roof. 
In this partition a small door Is cut, which alone gives access 
to the interior of the 77iarea. The posts supporting the roof 
joists and the ridge pole pass through the platforms and 
flooring mentioned, and on these posts the clan badge is often 
carved. The roof, with Its thatch descending to the level 
of the flooring of the inner compartment, forms the back and 
sides of the 7narea and Its ridge Is continued In front over the 
front and lowest platform as a long narrow overhang, called 
kaiva, often decorated with pendants of dried leaves and 
carved boards, the latter commonly attached horizontally to 
the under surface of the kaiva, just where it Is most difficult 
to see them. 

The photograph of the 77iarea of one of the Hauramlrl 
settlements of Walma, reproduced In Plate XXXIV, gives a 
good Idea of the general appearance of 77iarea as they exist 
at the present day among the Roro-speaking tribes, though 
those of the Paitana villages usually have a longer projecting 
overhang In front and present more decoration, as is shown 

224 ^^^^ Roro-speaking Tribes 

in Plate XXXV of one of the Mou clubhouses^ The club- 
houses of the Roro tribe are smaller and less well decorated 
than those of Walma, but probably only because the tribe 
is weak and has to a certain extent fallen upon evil days ; 
Kevori via^^ea, the largest clubhouse of Siria the strongest 
Roro village, is approximately 24 feet long by 19 feet wide, 
with a height from floor (itself raised some 5 feet from the 
ground) to ridge pole of from 8 to 10 feet, according to 
position. Plate XXXVI represents Anapua marea of Koae 
Kupunu idichtt of Siria village as it appeared in 1898. 

There were no legends concerning the origin of marea, 
at least repeated inquiries at Siria and Waima failed to elicit 
any. The name of the alleged first builder was, however, 
preserved at Siria, where it was stated that long, long ago 
one Obia first made a marea and that other folk imitated 
him, but his itsubu and the name of his marea have been 

At the present day there should be two inarea in each 
local group of every clan, one belonging to the ovia itsipana 
the other to the ovia awarina, but although this arrangement 
is of old standing it appeared that long ago there was but 
one marea to each local group of every clan. This belonged 
to the two chiefs, the ovia itsipana the chief of the right, and 
the ovia awarina the chief of the left, whose respective 
functions have already been considered in the chapter on 
chieftainship. Each chief was responsible for the upkeep of 
his half of the marea, and this custom is still in force in certain 
villages such as Mou, where some clans have but one m.area 
at the present day. In spite of this, the habit of building 
separate marea for the ovia itsipana and the ovia awarina 
appears to have been firmly rooted before the great dispersal 
from Maiaera. 

Each marea has a name, and originally there was but 
one name for all the marea of each clan, but at the present 
day each local group has its marea name or names, which 
generally do not include among their number the original 
7narea name of the clan or local group. Marea names de- 
scend from Tnarea building to marea building of each clan 
or local group, and although it seems likely enough that 

^ The presence of the picture attached to one of the posts supporting the roof 
of the marea shown in Plate XXXIV is due to European influence which is also 
responsible for the girls posing on the platform. 

Plate XXXV 

A viarea at Mou 

Plate XXXVI 

Anapua rtiarea of Siria village 

Clubhouses 225 

these names may still be intentionally changed at times, as 
among the neighbouring Mekeo tribe, no instance of such 
recent change of name was actually discovered. A single 
example was noted of a condition which may probably be 
regarded as anti-dating the present arrangement of two chiefs, 
each with their own niarea, bearing a specific hereditary name. 
In the Aitsi Benuna settlement of the Koae Kupunu clan of 
the Bereina community, there are two 7na7'ea both called 
Kevoripaka which face each other from opposite ends of the 
village street, and belong respectively to the ovia itsipana and 
ovia aiua7'ina of the local group of Koae Kupunu. It was 
stated that the existing arrangement was somewhat of an 
innovation, for the second Kevoripaka 7narea belonging to the 
ovia awa7'ina had only been in existence some twenty years, 
and it may be suggested that here is represented a stage in 
which the ovia awarina has not long acquired a 77ia7'ea of his 
own, and has not yet dropped the original name of the 7na7'ea 
of his clan or local group, in favour of a distinguishing name 
for his own newer marea^. 

The information given in the present section applies 
only to the ordinary 77ia7'ea of the ovia itsipana and the 
ovia avja7'ina, the former being known as ovia 7}ia7'ea7ia or 
itsipana r7ia7^ea7ia. It has already been mentioned that certain 
ovia awarina in their capacity of war chiefs each possess a 
7?ia7^ea, and these buildings which are called ahuahti 77iareana, 
literally battle 77iarea, or sometimes arawae 7narea7ia, i.e. 
spear 77ia7^ea, differ entirely in their use from the 77ta7'ea which 
the same chiefs possess or share in their capacity of ovia 
awarina. But besides the ovia and ahitahu 77iarea7ia, there 
are a limited number of 7)ia7'ea which exist only in con- 
nection with certain special functions and ceremonies ; these 
7}iarea are marked off from others by the fact that only a 
few clans possess the right to build them, although they 
are used ceremonially on appropriate occasions by all the 
male members of the community. Such 77iarea form two 

^ This does not necessarily imply that a single Kevoripaka viarea shared by 
the ovia itsipana and ovia awarina had survived among the ancestors of the folk 
now constituting the Koae Kupunu group of Bereina since the time when each 
local group possessed but one marea. It seems more probable that the group 
under consideration once followed the custom of building separate clubhouses just 
as their neighbours did, but that some accident, conceivably a period of weakness 
and isolation, led them to again adopt the single tnarea until twenty years ago, 
when they were able to build a second. Then as there was no traditional name for 
the marea of the ovia awarina this building was naturally called Kevoripaka. 

S. N. G. 15 

226 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

classes, the artiani marea described in chapter xxi, and 
formerly used for initiation ceremonies, and the paiha marea 
concerned with warfare in its magical aspect and described in 
chapter xxiv. 

As regards the meaning of the 77tarea names but little 
could be discovered. The meaning of Iwamuru is discussed 
upon page 228, bitre re-duplicated in the name of Burebure 
of the Parama Kupunu marea of Siria village means ' un- 
governable ' or 'derelict,' and would especially be applied 
to a derelict canoe. It was denied that Kevori, the name 
of the Ovia Pokina marea of Siria, as well as that of one 
of the Roro-speaking tribes, had in its former application 
anything to do with its latter significance. Airava and 
Haurama, the names of certain Waima marea, mean 'hornbill' 
and 'black snake' [Psetcdechis sp.) respectively. Rabi, which 
occurs in the name of three Waima marea of Ereere stock, 
means 'night' and Rabau or Ravau is a native name for Yule 

There can, however, be little doubt that the names of 
a number of Waima mai^ea were derived from the names of 
Mekeo clubhouses, indeed although this fact is not recognized 
at Waima at the present day, the etymological identity of the 
names of certain Waima and Mekeo clubhouses seems to 
place the matter beyond dispute. Thus Maivauku, the name 
of the marea belonging to Aihoa Kupunu and Arabure 
Ororo Pokina settlements of Waima has scarcely altered 
from the Mekeo name Maipa ufu, and Oaibua, the name of 
the battle marea of Aihoa Kupunu, is obviously the same 
as Oafua, the name of a group of Mekeo clubhouses (cf. 
chapter xxviii)\ 

Socially a marea is a clubhouse in the fullest meaning of 
the word, of which all men of the local group of the itsubu are ■ 
members by right of birth, though there is a specially intimate I 
connection between the ovia itsipana and the marea of the ■! 
clan or local group ; indeed, the titles of the chief and sub- 

^ Perhaps the assumption by Waima of the names of Mekeo clubhouses for 
their marea may have been an act of courtesy in return for hospitality received, 
for I know of an instance in which the name of a Mekeo clubhouse was changed 
to that of a Yokea eravo in which the men of the clan had been hospitably enter- 
tained. There seems no doubt that Oaibua is really a battle marea, but probably 
the quarrel said to have led to the building of the battle marea really led to the 
building of a jnarea by the ovia awarina, not in his capacity as war chief but 
simply as ovia awarina. 

Clubhouses 227 

chief, ovia itsipa7ia, chief of the right, and ovia awarina, chief 
of the left, have reference to, or embody, the positions assumed 
by these men on the marea verandah during a number of 

important ceremonies. Oaoa, the badges of the clan, are 
carved on the posts of the marea, and in it are hung boards 
carved with the patterns which are the hereditary property 
of the ovia ttsipana, the high chief of the clan. On the 
marea platform ceremonial feasts are held, and here the 
men of the itsubu gather in the evening, to chew areca nut 
and discuss village affairs. Here, too, the older men gossip 
or idle away the hot tropic afternoons, while the ibitoe sleep 
within the closed inner chamber of the marea of the ovia 
awarina until thev are married and often after, should their 
wives prove troublesome. 

Strangers are received in the marea of the ovia itsipana, 
and usually sleeping there and for some days being fed there. 
If the strangers were 'official' visitors — ambassadors bearing 
perhaps an invitation to some big ceremony — it would be 
a breach of etiquette not to sleep in the marea. The marea 
of the war-chiefs stood on a very different footing with regard 
to strangers ; in the old days any stranger who on first 
entering a village stepped upon the platform of one of these 
marea, even by accident, was killed. 

Dead men are exposed on the marea platform where they 
are mourned for by their relatives, and it was said that the 
dead wife of a chief would be exposed on the marea, but 
I was not able to inquire into this matter thoroughly. The 
members of the family in which a death has occurred are 
forbidden to enter the marea until after one of the feasts 
which are an essential part of the ceremonial mourning. 

It seemed that vegetable food was never hung up or 
displayed in any quantity upon the m.area previous to a feast, 
as is the custom throughout the area of the open dubu. 

As amoncr the Mekeo tribes a warrior mis^ht call out the 
name of his marea when striking a blow or when very 

^ Father Cochard who gave this information knew of no reason tending to 
make him believe that this betokened any conscious animism, and instanced the 
similar practice of the Roro of calling out the names of their nets when taking fish 
from them. Each net was said to have its own name. Probably these customs 
have little or no connection with animism in the ordinary sense of the word, but 
are rather examples of ' tnana ' with which the 7narea are so highly charged that 
'virtue' is inherent even in their name. 


228 Tlie Roro-speaking Tribes 

At the Paitana village of Mou, Father Cochard told 
me that marea other than those of the ovia itsipana, were 
called wamunc rnarihana, literally 'jealousy marea^ while from 
another source I learnt that Iwamuru, the name of the marea 
of Aitsi Noobira clan of Siria village, meant 'jealousy\' 
This information tallies well with the result of independent 
inquiries as to why certain ovia awarina each had a marea 
of his own. Thus at Arabure Ororo Pokina of Waima, the 
father (or grandfather) of Beata Oa, the present ovia itsipana, 
disgusted with the truculent behaviour of the then ovia 
awarina, told him to build a m^area for himself. This the 
latter did, and called his marea Maivauku. Again, it was 
said that five generations ago there was but one marea, called 
Maivauku, in the Aihoa Kupunu settlement of Waima. My 
informants did not know whether at that time there was an 
ovia awarina in this settlement or not, but subsequently, 
probably three generations ago, the ancestor of the present 
ovia awarina quarrelled with the ovia itsipana to such an 
extent, that the latter told him to build a 7narea of his own. 
This he did, and called it Oaibua, a name he is said to have 
invented, and the meaning of which is not known at the 
present day^ 

As a rule the ovia awarina seem as tenacious of their 
more recently acquired right to build marea as the ovia 
itsipana, and even when a clan is weak in numbers its ovia 
awarina may sometimes, by a special expedient, contrive to 
have his marea built, even when none is built for the ovia 
itsipana. It is not unusual for two weak clans to unite to 
build a marea in common, when the right side of this marea 
will be built by the ovia itsipana of one clan, while the left 
side may be built by the ovia awarina of the other. Each 
half of the marea bears the name proper to the marea of the 
ovia itsipana or ovia awarina responsible for its building, and _ 
is considered to be a marea itself, though as a matter of fact I 
the building is usually spoken of by one name, and this is the 11 
name proper to the marea of the local group or clan who built 
its right side. This is the case at Siria where the marea \ 
usually spoken of as Kevori really consists of two halves, 
Kevori and Boaiota, representing two distinct marea and built 

^ This term would actually be used when speaking of sexual jealousy. 
' Maivauku and Oaibua are really derived from the names of Mekeo club- 
houses, cf. p. 226. 

Clubhouses 229 

respectively by the ovia itsipana of Ovia Pokina itsubu, and 
the ovia awarina of Koae Kupunu itsubu ; a similar instance 
exists at Waima. 

Bones are sometimes attached to the walls of the niarea ; 
these trophies of the chase, such as the lower jaw of a pig 
with good tusks, or the skulls of pigs or dogs consumed at 
a feast given by some other clan, might be temporarily 
exhibited in the 7narea, partly perhaps as a memento of the 
ceremony at which they were presented, but definitely as a 
memorandum to the men of the clan or local group that they 
must bestir themselves to return the compliment. Father 
Cochard informed me that some years ago when one of the 
Siria clans gave a feast to Pinupaka, the skulls of the dogs 
eaten were hung in the Pinupaka mai^ea, since the feast was 
recognized as the return for one previously given by Pinupaka 
to the same Siria clan. Further the same authority states 
that when a return feast had been given, a skull would some- 
times be taken from the riiarea and thrown away. 

Although the chiefs were responsible for the upkeep of 
the marea, including the provision of the carved marea posts, 
and in theory at least for the carving of them, there were in 
each settlement certain men, experts in their craft, who appear 
to have been expected to execute, and as a matter of fact, 
did produce all the really good carving that their comrades 
required. Thus, at the Waima settlement of Roro Aiera, 
one Poa Oa was said to have done most of the carving for his 
clan in his day. His work is still spoken of as being unusually 
fine and was held in such esteem, that the men of the Nara 
village Diumana asked him to come to them and help them 
with their clubhouse, which was to be built on a plan closely 
resembling that of the Waima mai^ea, but without the itara. 
The major part of the carving on the posts of this clubhouse 
was done by Poa Oa, or under his direction. He taught his 
craft to his son Maoni Poa who, after his father's death, was 
considered nearly as good a workman, and who, in July 1904, 
was carving the posts for a new marea, three posts of which 
were nearly finished at that date. It was said that Maoni 
Poa would in turn teach his craft to his son Oa Maoni, then 
a small boy. 

Spears and clubs were never brought into or upon the 
marea of the ovia itsipana, but these, and bows and arrows 
were brought to the batde marea, where they were kept, and 

230 TJie RorO'Speakmg Tribes 

where reserves of weapons were stored as they were also in 
certain other marea known as paiha marea, which at the 
present day have fallen into disused 


When a new inarea is built, an inauguration ceremony 
is held before it is used for any ceremonial purpose, though 
men may go there to gossip and may also sleep in it before 
the ceremony has taken place. The itsttbu building the marea 
collect and prepare the wood and other necessaries, and carry 
the lightest of these to their village. Any doubtful matters 
concerning the 7narea are settled by the two chiefs, but the 
ovia itsipana takes the lead. The chiefs and the old men carve 
the posts and make rope ; the younger men dig the holes and 
generally do the rougher work. On the day before the actual 
erection is to be begun, the ovia itsipana sends bunches of 
areca nut to the chiefs of itsubu in neighbouring settlements. 
This is an intimation that their help, or rather that of their 
clans, is required in the task of setting up the posts. No 
notice is sent to villages outside the tribe, though many of 
these will be Invited later to the inauguration feast of the 
new marea. On the appointed day, all the men of the local 
group of the itsubu to whom the new marea will belong, and 
those helping them, join in the work of carrying the heavy 
posts, which have generally been carved away from the village 
in the forest or on the shore. All assist in setting up the 
piles, the local group owning the new marea providing food 
for its visitors. 

On the first day all the posts, piles and rafters are put 
up, and in the evening pig and dog meat is distributed to 
all concerned in the work. The same evening there is a 
dance in which both men and women take part. The women 
gather leaves, and the men fix them on strips of creeper and 
twine them on the marea posts. The itsubu alone proceeds 
with the work on the following day, and fixes the small rafters 
called robu ; a few days later the ovia itsipana summons all 
the chiefs of other local groups and itsubu to help in putting 
on the roof, the invitation being given as before by sending 

^ Among the Roro-speaking tribes warfare is now a thing of the past, and 
though doubtless spears are still plentiful enough they are never paraded about the 
village, a caution which recent difficulty with the government over burial regula- 
tions has intensified at Waima. Paiha marea are described in chapter xxiv. 

Chibhouses 231 

round areca nut. The remainder of the work is done by the 
itsubu alone ; the platform, itara, in front, is put up only a day 
or two before the official opening ceremony, and the carvings 
on the posts should be concealed from view. Sometimes the 
front of the marea is veiled with a curtain of coconut leaf mats, 
but after the roof is put on men may use and sleep in the 
ina7'ea, though the official opening has yet to take place. At 
the time of my visit the carvings on the posts and rafters 
of the then unfinished marea in Pinupaka village were carefully 
enveloped in dry banana leaves. 

In preparation for the opening ceremony the men of the 
itsubu go fishing and smoke their catch. At the same time 
they erect eheteharana, that is, they set in the ground bamboo 
poles on which are hung food and streamers of palm leaf 
When the itaj^a is made, some three days before the official 
opening of the marea, the chiefs of the local group go round 
with areca nut inviting friendly villages to come to the 
inauguration and the dance which is held on the eve of the 
ceremony. It is understood that each chief coming will 
bring with him six to twelve bunches of bananas in return 
for which he and his people receive food from the itsubu 
inaugurating the new marea. The women collect wood for 
the fires and the men prepare their feather gear for the dance. 
That evening the pigs intended for the feast are caught, and 
the visitors are received informally. The dance begins about 
10 or II p.m. but before this the people of the local group 
perform a small dance for which its members do not put on 
much ornament ; this is said to be for the purpose of enter- 
taining their visitors and keeping them awake. When the big 
dance begins, the curtains of coconut leaves, ariari, on the 
front of the ma^^ea are drawn aside, and the chiefs of the local 
group speak in turn from the itara ; then the carvings are 
uncovered. The dance goes on till morning ; sometimes rival 
villages or clans seek to determine which of them can keep it 
up the longest ; the tail of a perineal bandage {itaburi) tucked 
into its wearer's leglet is a challenge to this contest\ 

On the following morning a number of pigs, all provided 
by the local group inaugurating the marea, are put on the 
ground in front of the marea on heaps of coconut leaves, and 
the chiefs of the local group portion them out to the various 

1 At the opening of the new Waima church the dance was kept up for twenty- 
six hours when the performers were, with difficulty, persuaded to go home. 

232 Tlie RorO'Speaking Tribes 

visiting chiefs. The pigs are then beaten to death with 
clubs ; the club used for this purpose is not the pur'da or 
black wood club, but the ibarapu made from a palm, da, which 
is also used in carrying bananas. The pigs are cut up by 
the ovia akiva and the pieces of pig-flesh are laid in rows 
and named as the portions of various persons in the itsubu 
of the chief to which each pig has been given, the female 
relatives of each individual so named taking charge of and 
ultimately carrying away his portion. The ovia itsipana 
giving the feast is said to reserve one or two pigs for his 
own people. Besides the pigs, the local group provides a 
vast amount of vegetable food, to produce which specially 
large gardens may be made a year before the ceremony. 
The women of the village cook a mess of the entrails of the 
pigs with bananas ; this with yams and mashed bananas is 
eaten about midday on the itara by the visiting chiefs, who 
sit and eat, first the bananas and then the mess of entrails. 
The chiefs of the local group which is inaugurating the 
marea do not eat, its ovia itsipana saying before the other 
chiefs begin eating : ' See, I have prepared this for you, now 
eat.' At the end of the feast areca nut is distributed and 
chewed. During the afternoon the women of the village 
cook yams and bananas ; about four or five p.m., the food is 
laid out in two or three lines down the centre of the village 
street on leaves or in pots, the portions of food being grouped 
in twos or threes ; this setting out of food is termed wakaro. 
When the food has been laid out, all the chiefs inspect it, 
and the ovia itsipana of the new marea walks round with a 
banana haulm, striking each collection of food and saying * so- 
and-so, your food.' When food has been assigned to all, the 
women help each man to carry off his portion to be eaten 
with his own people in his own village. In the evening there 
is sometimes a dance. 


Reference has already been made on pp. 208 and 210 to 
certain dada used as clan badges by the itsubu of the Roro- 
speaking tribes ; dada are, however, perhaps most in evidence 
upon the marea, but before describing these and their relation 
to the marea it seems advisable to give two legends concerning 
the origin of one of the dada found upon certain Roro and 

Origin of Oada 233 

Paitana marea. It must, however, be noted that everything 
said concerning the relation of oada to the marea applies only 
to the marea of the ovia itsipana, not to the marea of the 
ovia awarina in his capacity of chief ' of the left ' or to aruaru 
marea, for both Dr Strong and I were assured independently 
that oada were not exhibited on war or paiha 7narea. 

The following legend explains how akimiu the garfish 
came to be the oada of a Roro clan, while Mainahauna 
another Paitana clan accounted for their dada which repre- 
sents a crab claw (rata) by saying that long ago some of 
their people looked out to sea and saw sails of this shape upon 
canoes and, being much struck with them, took them as their 
dada and represented them upon their mai^ea posts. 

At Pinupaka where there is but one itsubu, Parama 
Kupunu, there was, at the time of my visit in June 1904, 
no finished marea in the village, but one named Kevori was 
being built by the ovia awarina of Parama Kupunu. Here 
the following story was told as to the origin of the Parama 
Kupunu dada. 

Long ago the men of Parama Kupunu went fishing and 
caught akumu only. When asleep that night in the marea 
the ovia itsipana had a dream in which Paipai, who in this 
account appeared to be regarded as a benevolent spirit\ told 
him to go and ask the folk of other clans who had caught 
other kinds of fish, to exchange some of these for the akumu 
caught by Parama Kupunu. The other clans refused, and 
again the chief had a dream in which Paipai told him that, 
inasmuch as the other clans refused to exchange their fish for 
akumu the latter should be the sign of the Tnarea of Parama 
Kupunu. Meanwhile a big snake had eaten all the akumu, 
leaving only their heads, and in another dream Paipai insisted 
on the head of the akicmu with its long prominent jaws 
becoming the dada of Parama Kupunu. 

The Aitsi Kupunu local group of Mou village account 
for their dada which represents the tail of the fish called paia 
by the story that their ancestors once caught a fish of this 
kind, the tail of which continued to fiap long after the fish 
had been killed. Much impressed they took this for their 
dada and carved the paia tail on their marea posts. 

^ This name {^paipai) is more generally applied to certain malevolent beings 
who afflict men with disease. 

234 TJie Roro-speaking Tribes 


The oaoa found upon marea will be grouped for purposes 
of description as follows : 

(i) Oaoa which are the badges of the itsubu or local 
group to which the ma7'ea belongs. 

(ii) Foreign oaoa, that is, oaoa which are the badges 
of foreign itsubic, i.e. itsuhi or local groups to which the 
viarea does not belono-. 

(iii) Oaoa, the property of the ovia itsipana of the 
itstcbu or local group to which the marea belongs. 

(iv) Oaoa which were stated to belong to, or to be asso- 
ciated with the marea building as such, that is to say- 
certain marea with a given historic name and belonging to 
a particular clan or local group, had associated with them 
certain oaoa. 

(i) Oaoa the badges of the itsubu to which the marea 

Figure 15 (p. 208) shows the oaoa of the local groups of 
Ovia Pokina and Koae Kupunu itsubu exhibited respectively 
on the marea Kevori and Boaiota of Siria village. Both 
these oaoa were carved on the projecting ends of rounded 
poles of about \\ inch diameter, constituting the roof stringers 
which projected in front of the gable end over the entrance. 
The bifid free extremity of the Ovia Pokina oaoa represents 
the jaws of a species of garfish called akumu. For the oaoa 
of Koae Kupunu called paia, no meaning could be elicited 
at Siria, but at Mou where it is the oaoa of the local group 
of Aitsi Kupunu itsubu, this represents the tail of a fish called 
paia. This type of oaoa is commonly to be found carved on 
the projecting ends of the horizontals, carrying the roof of 
the marea, and sometimes on the projecting ridge pole, as 
at Siria where the ridge pole of Kevori m.area terminated in 
the aku7nu pattern, the oaoa of the local group of Ovia Pokina 

Designs representing the oaoa of a clan or local group are, 
or may be, carved upon the side posts, meke, which sustain the 
greater part of the weight of the building, on the front end of | 
the ridge pole kapahene, upon the free ends of the inside 
longitudinal stringers kopakopa, the outside main longitudinals 
utsubi, and upon the free forward projecting ends of some 

Oada in Clubhouses 


of the floor rafters aru. The oada may also appear beneath 
the kaiva, either carved from the soHd or in low relief upon 
a board attached horizontally to the dome of the kaiva. 
Airava marea of Abotaiara settlement of the Hauramiri stock 

Fig. 19. Hornbill derivatives on the posts of Airava 7narea of Abotaiara (Waima). 

of Waima affords the best example of the representation of 
an oada in the marea. As already noted on page 208, the 
men of Abotaiara settlement wear the mandibles of the horn- 
bill on ceremonial occasions. Their marea has the capitals 
of its side posts carved to represent hornbill heads with 

Fig. 20. Designs on inarea posts derived from the markings on the mandible 

of the hornbill. 

exaggerated beaks bent downwards which, at their tip, join 
the base of the capital. A rather narrow pedicle springing 
from the back of the base of each capital constitutes the neck. 
The wood between the neck and the beak has been cut 

236 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

away, and through the open space thus formed, the hori- 
zontal poles bearing the greater part of the weight of the 
roof are passed. Figure 19 represent hornbill carvings in 
this marea. 

On the front central post (kupua) which supports the ridge 
pole just behind the kaiva, the upper and lower mandibles 
of the two hornbills are secured, while from the roof near the 
top of this pole there is hung a roughly carved wooden 
figure of a bird with extended wings which was said to repre- 
sent a hornbill. Further the kupua and another smaller post 
just behind it are carved with angular designs derived from 
the markings on the mandible of the bird. 

In certain other marea, e.g. Maivauku of the Waima 
settlement of Aihoa Kupunu in which the airava dada was 
carved upon the posts, it had degenerated to such an extent 
as to be unrecognizable. 

Figure 20 gives two diagrammatic representations of 
capitals which were said to represent the airava dada. I be- 
lieve that both these figures are from Waima marea, certainly 
capitals which resemble these are to be found at Waima. 

Reference has been made to the effigy of the hornbill, 
the dada of the men of Abotaiara suspended beneath the 
kaiva of their m.area. Although the boards exhibited beneath 
the kaiva of a m.area are usually only decorative (cf. page 
244) the dada of the clan may sometimes be represented on 
them. Thus in Tautaa marea of the Waima settlement of 
Herahera, there is a board upon the under side of which is 
carved a lizard called ibaboro [Varanus sp.), a bird and a 
chelonian. The significance of the two latter, which are of 
smaller size and nearer the edges of the board than Is the 
lizard, is discussed on p. 238, and all that need be said 
here is that ibaboro is the dada of the men of the Herahera 

(ii) Foreign dada in the marea. 

The second class of dada upon marea, namely those not 
the badges of itsubu or local groups owning the marea, fall 
into two series. 

^ In Decorative Art (figure 137, Plate IX) Dr Haddon has figured a panel on a 
pipe in the Glasgow Museum 'labelled from Kerama, possibly from Mai va [Waima] 
containing a lizard, probably a Varanus, and three birds.' The style of this panel 
resembles that of the board beneath the kaiva of Tautaa marea and I have no 
doubt that the pipe is of Waima make, while the shape of the panel suggests the 
possibility that the design was copied from a board which decorated a clubhouse. 

Oaoa in Clubhoitses 237 

(i) In the special aruaru marea referred to in chapter xxi 
and used in initiation ceremonies, the bada of the clans par- 
ticipating in the aruaru ceremonies held in these marea were 
formerly represented on the marea. 

The capital of the front right lateral post of the aruaru 
marea Tautaa of the Herahera settlement of Waima is carved 
in the manner already described on p. 2 11, as the conventional 
representation of the hornbill. This post belongs to Roro Aiera 
settlement of the Arabure stock, one of whose bada is airava 
the hornbill. The second right lateral post belongs to one of 
the Hauramiri local groups, and is also carved to represent 
the hornbill, but on this capital the marks on the beak of the 
bird have not been quite so highly conventionalised, and their 
character can still be recognized. 

The left front lateral post belongs to the Ereere stock, and 
has upon it an admirable representation of the crab-claw 
canoe sail, which is one of the baba of some, or perhaps of 
all, the Ereere local groups. The carving on this post is 
incomplete, for it was said that its capital should represent 
two sails with their surfaces parallel and their edges turned 
towards the centre of the village. The second left lateral 
post belongs to Herahera settlement. Its capital is broken 
but should represent the baba of Herahera, i.e. one of the 
Arabure local groups. 

Each of the posts was supposed to have been carved by 
the chief of the settlement or local group, whose baba it bore, 
and certainly each ovia itsipana was responsible for the carv- 
ing of the baba of his settlement or local group, but as a 
matter of fact many men assisted in the carving of the capitals 
of these posts, and when a man who was not a chief, was 
particularly expert, he would do the greater part of the work 
as in the jnarea of his own local group. While the chiefs of 
foreign itsubu and local groups were working at the posts of 
Tautaa marea in Herahera village they were given food by 
the men of Herahera, but this was really far less a gift than 
an exchange, since later each ovia itsipana would present 
Herahera with as much or more food than he and his men 
had consumed. 

It seemed that the baba of the clans participating in the 
arua7'u ceremonies might be represented in or upon parts of 
the marea other than the posts which support the building, 
thus, as already mentioned, representations of a lizard, ibaboro, 

238 Tlie RorO'Speakhig Tribes 

a chelonlan, and a bird, occur upon a board beneath the 
kaiva of Tautaa marea. The Hzard which is drawn so as 
to occupy the centre of the board, and upon a larger scale 
than the bird and the chelonian, represents the dam of Hera- 
hera settlement, and it seems likely (though unfortunately 
this question was not directly asked) that the bird and 
chelonian represent the dada of some other of the itsubu 
or local groups which took part in the aruaru ceremonial. 
Airava, the hornbill, which is modelled in effigy in the marea 
of Abotaiara, with wings spread exactly as is represented on 
the flat on the kaiva in Tautaa marea, is the dada of the folk 
of a number of Hauramiri and Arabure local groups, while 
aieri a chelonian, perhaps the fresh-water turtle, is one of 
the dada of the Hauramiri groups, Hauramiri Koko and 
Hauramiri Oki Pokina. 

Another example of a clubhouse which is probably an 
aruaru marea may be referred to, namely the big new marea 
called Rabau, built in July 1904, but not then inaugurated\ 

The Paitana settlement of Mou consists of six local 
groups, representatives of all of which are responsible for 
the upkeep of certain of the posts of the new marea, built in 
1904 by the local group. of Mou itsubu, the leading group of 
the village. Further, certain of these posts, if not all, have 
carved on them the dada of the local group to which the 
individual responsible for their upkeep belongs. This marea 
is a very fine building; it has two of the central posts called 
kupua and eight of the lateral posts called meke (four on 
each side) in front of the closed-in chamber which constitutes 
the greater part of the building. The ownership of these 

^ The seclusion of initiates in aruaru marea has quite ceased at Waima and 
the details were only elicited with difficulty. My visit to Mou was so short, that I 
had no opportunity of ascertaining directly from the villagers whether or no this 
fnarea is an arjiaru marea, although the conjecture is borne out by a piece of 
information supplied by Father Cochard, who states that at Mou, aruaru is the 
name of a ceremony in which folk of all itsubu meet and are shut up in a marea. 
It was said that this ceremony could only take place when no death had occurred 
within a period of about a year. This statement is particularly interesting in con- 
nection with a remark made by an elderly native of Waima to the effect that there 
were no aruaru marea now because so many people have died. On the other 
hand the natives of Siria professed to have no knowledge of aruaru marea, and 
Father Joindreau who inquired after 1 had left the district, concerning the numerous 
oaoa of Mou marea writes : 'When the marea belonging to the oldest itsubu (or 
perhaps the most powerful) is being built, each of the lateral posts of the marea is 
put up by one of the chiefs of the other itsubu.^ It will be noted that Father 
Joindreau's information does not contradict the idea that Rabau is an aruaru 
marea, indeed it seems to suggest a possible origin of these marea. 



Oada in Chlbho^tses 239 

posts will be most easily understood by consulting figure 21, 
which is a ground plan of the front of the marea. 

A and B, the two kupua, which support a great part of 
the weight of the ridge-pole and are the most 'honourable' 
posts of the marea, belong to Naime Aitsi and Paru Oa 
respectively, these two men being the ovia itsipana and ovia 
awarina of the local group of Mou itsubu. 

C, the front right, 7neke, probably belongs to Naime Aitsi, 
but on this point my note is not absolutely clear. 

© © 



© © 

© © 



Fig. 21. Plan of posts supporting anterior open portion of large 7narea of Mou. 

D belongs to Aitsi Kawa, the ovia itsipana of the local 
group of Paitana itsubu. 

E belongs to Oanu Aitsi of the local group of Maina- 
hauma itsubu, of which he is probably the ovia itsipana. 

F belongs to a man called Are Kairuku, information as to 
his itsubu is unfortunately lacking. 

G belongs to Aitsi Bio, ovia itsipana of the local group of 
Korena itsubu. 

H belongs to one Rabu Aua, itsubu not noted. 

K belongs to Aitsi Erere, ovia itsipana of the local group 
of Uri Kupunu itsubu. 

L belongs to Lakani Nehara, itsubu not noted. 

240 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

One of the three posts, the itsubu of whose owners is 
uncertain, belongs to the ovia itsipana of the local group of 
Herina itsiibu, H being probably the post in question. 

Dr Strong gives the following list of oada formerly ex- 
hibited on the Waima aruaru niarea, 

Airava, the hornbill. 

Aktwiu, a garfish. 

Itapa, probably representing another fish, but said to be 
simply a piece of wood carved in much the same way as that 
representing the akumu, 

Uala, the crocodile. 

Rata, representing a crab-claw sail or perhaps a crab's 

Elaiielati, a snake. 

Koiytiy an ornament consisting of a piece of worked turtle 
shell attached to a disc of the shell of Melo diadeina. 

laveiave, the white cockatoo. 

Tau, 2l figure of a man. 

Mairi, the crescentic ornament cut from the shell of the 
pearl oyster Meleagrina margeritifera. 

This list, though undoubtedly accurate as far as it goes, 
is probably not complete; there seems little doubt that the 
large lizard called ibaboro {Varanus sp.) was also represented 
on aruaru marea. There are in the British Museum two 
carved planks, each some five feet long and about half a 
foot broad, which were undoubtedly produced by one of 
the Roro-speaking tribes. One of these boards (figure 22) 
has carved upon it two representations of a lizard which can 
be recognized as ibaboro, while on the other is carved a 
human figure and a lizard. There is no reasonable doubt 
that these boards stood at the entrance of a marea, and the 
designs upon them as well as their size, point very strongly 
to this having been an aruaru marea. During a short stay at 
Waima in 1898 I saw two partially burnt and rapidly decay- 
ing posts of a large m^areavc^^on which a crocodile and a human 
figure were carved respectively. The technique of the carv- 
ing of the crocodile was good, that of the human figure, which 
was almost life-size, was very rough, and as far as my memory 
serves resembled that shown in figure 22. 

It may, perhaps, be questioned whether the oada on 
aruaru marea really represent foreign oaoa, and whether 
aruaru marea are not to be regarded as in fact the common 


bada in Chibhotises 




property of several clans. But it seemed that the aruaru 

marea really and essentially belonged 

to one clan though used by others, 

and the fact that the chiefs of 

artia^m marea were always the ovia 

itsipana and ovia awarina of the clan 

or local group said to own the niareay 

appeared to put the matter beyond 


(ii) The second series of cases In 
which foreign da'da were introduced 
Into the vtarea form a rather miscel- 
laneous group, individual instances 
being, as we should judge them, acts 
of individual courtesy rather than 
imperious custom, or else serving to 
bring to mind events In the history 
of the local group. It seemed that 
all these cases were looked upon by 
the natives themselves as rather un- 

The following are examples of the 
circumstances which may lead to the 
introduction of foreign dada. 

In Bobo Rabi the marea of Arabu 
Kupunu settlement, a local group of 
the Ereere itsubu of Waima, the 
capital of a post is carved so as to 
present a slight variant of the horn- 
bill design already figured as occurring 
on the posts of Maivauku marea of 
Aihoa Kupunu settlement, of which 
Makani Bio is chief. It was said that 
this post was actually carved by Makani 
Bio because Naime Miria whose marea 
is Bobo Rabi helped Makani Bio 
with the roofing of his marea. 

The following instance occurred at 
Siria village. One Araha Aitsi of a 
Roro-speaking tribe on the mainland 
came to Siria when young and married 
there. He lived with and was closely 

S. N. G. 

.. <l^-T- 



Fig. 22. Carved planks in 
the British Museum. 


242 The RorO'Speakmg Tribes 

associated with the local group of Koae Kupunu itsubu and 
was allowed to carve the usual conventional figure of his 
bada, akicmit, in Boaiota marea. It must, however, be noted 
that this man was a successful fish charmer, and it is possible 
that this may have had something to do with the ready 
admission of his fish bada to the marea. 

(iii) Oaoa, the property of the chiefs of the clan. 

In most but not in all marea a number of carved boards 
are to be seen, either suspended from the forward projecting 
overhang of the roof, or attached to the under side of the 
thatch, where they can only be seen with difficulty; some- 
times, however, they are prominently placed under the eaves 
of the building or attached to the front of the main post. 
The designs on such boards generally represent conventional 
renderings of common ornaments, often arranged in series, 
and as a rule not forming any design which can be recog- 
nized as an baba distinguishing a particular local group or 

The greater number of boards of this class are the property 
of the marea chiefs and must be regarded as their baba, as 
there is no doubt that they are recognized as belonging to the 
families of these chiefs to which public opinion strictly limits 
their use. As in the case of other baba the right to use 
a particular board might be sold, but only to other chiefs ; 
no instance was discovered of any recent sale of these chiefs 
baba, but it seems probable that old and forgotten sales afford 
the explanation of the similarity, or even identity, of carved 
boards exhibited in fiiarea belonging to chiefs of different 
local groups, itsubu or tribes. Father Guibaud stated that 
at Mou, a Paitana village, there is, or was a Tnarea called 
Anapua with a chief's baba resembling that exhibited on the 
Siria marea Anapua, though the two local groups belong to 
different tribes and to itsubu that do not bear the same name. 
A similar instance is said to have occurred at Kevori, while 
the pattern represented on the board belonging to the 
ovia awarina of Koae Kupunu of Siria (figure 24) and until 
recently exhibited on a board in Boaiota marea is almost 
identical with a portion of the design to be seen on boards 
fixed under the eaves, and attached to the main post (Jcupud) 
of Maivauku marea of Arabure Ororo Pokina settlement of 
Waima. It was said that of old no ovia awarina had the 
right to hang such carved planks in the m.area. I am not 



Oada in Clubhouses 


Fig. 23. Board belonging to the 
Ovia itsipana of Koae Kupunu itsubu 
of Siria villajre. 



»^^ ' -- 


li "J 

Fig. 24. Board belong- 
ing to the Ovia aunirina 
of Koae Kupunu itsubu of 
Siria village. 

16 — 2 

244 ^^^^ Roro-speaking Tribes 

sure whether this Implied that he had no hereditary right to such 
planks, or only that he might not exhibit them In the marea. The 
carvings themselves are generally in low relief, both Intaglio 
and relief often being accentuated by paint of different colours. 

Figures 23 and 24 are boards, belonging to, and considered 
the dada of, the ovia itsipana and ovia awarina of the local 
group of Koae Kupunu itsubu at Siria; these were exhibited 
on Anapua and Boalota marea respectively. At Siria the 
patterns on these boards could not be identified; it was said 
that their meaning, If ever they had any, was forgotten, but 
the pattern on the board belonging to the ovia awarina 
appears to be derived from the fretted turtle shell ornament 
koiyu which is the name given to this pattern at Waima. 
The designs upon the carved boards under the kaiva of 
Airava marea of the Waima settlement of Abotaira, represent 
a number of mairi (the crescentic pearl-shell neck ornament), 
koiyu and something called aria^H, the nature of which could 
not be determined. Again on Maivauku marea of Arabure 
Ororo Poklna settlement of Waima there are two boards 
respectively attached to the main post (kupua) of the marea, 
and to the partition separating the inner chamber of the 
marea from Its itara. Both these boards have carved upon 
them in low relief a design called rairai, which was the 
property of the ovia awarina, and this design is again found 
on the same marea on one of the boards attached to its kaiva. 

It was not clear to what extent the carved boards attached 
to the under surface of the kaiva of the marea were the 
property of the marea chief or chiefs but some certainly were, 
and there can be no doubt that they owned the boards hung 
in the front of the marea, such as those shown in figure 24. It 
seems, however, that some of the carved and painted boards 
under the kaiva were not regarded as the personal property 
of any chief, but were simply ornamental, and I formed the 
opinion that this was so In the case of a number of the boards 
in Airava marea, upon one of which a snake is represented. 
These ornamental boards, which are usually square-ended, 
may pass Into the bull roarer form, and figure 25 is a drawing 
of a 'bull roarer,' In the style of a kaiva board, the history 
of which could not be determined but which was said to come 
from one of the Roro villages \ 

^ The specimen alluded to is now in the British Museum where its catalogue 
number is 1906, 10 . 13 . 48 ; allusion may here be made to a bull roarer derivative 


baoa m Clubhouses 


(Iv) Oada associated with the 
marea as such. 

There is a certain class of oada, 
apparently of no great importance, 
which appeared to be more closely 
associated with the 7narea as a building 
than those baoa already described, and 
which was not to be considered the 
property of the folk using the marea 
in quite the same way as those pre- 
viously referred to. The heading of 
this paragraph probably accentuates a 
difference which no native was able to 
clearly explain to me, nevertheless it 
appeared that some such division was 
necessarv for a certain class of daba. 
The oada referred to seem to have 
ceased to exist in the villaQfes of 
the Roro tribe, but the following in- 
formation was obtained at Siria re- 
garding their former occurrence. 

Anapua inarea of the local group 
of Koae Kupunu itsubu formerly had 
a carved and painted plank hung from 
the projecting kaiva of the marea. 
Two small pots of the kind known 
as eiei were attached to the lower end 
of this plank ; a similar ornament still 
exists on one of the ma7^ea of Babiko 
village, while two small pots are to 
be seen hanging from the front of 
the Mekeo clubhouse represented in 
Plate XLV. 

Kevori ma^'ea of Ovia Pokina had 
a single eiei hung from the front 
overhang of the roof and designs or 




. -^: 








some four feet long, collected by Dr Strong in an 
Elema clubhouse which is also in the British Museum 
(1906 — 16). A snake cut in high relief extends for 
almost the whole length of this specimen, the head 
and tail of the animal being so much undercut as to 
be partially free from the board from which it 
Jtands out for the remainder of its length. 

Fig. 25. Ornamental board 
of bull-roarer shape. 


TJie Roro-speaking Tribes 

patterns were painted upon these pots on high ceremonial 

Figure 26 represents a carved wooden board called /^/^r^5, 
said to have been used also as a canoe ornament, and which 
was associated with Waidara marea of the Ereere Aiera local 
group of Ereere itsubu of Waima. No doubt this ornament is 
derived from the waxing or waning moon. Its ornamentation 
suggests Gulf influence, and the word for moon in the Elema 
languages of the Papuan Gulf is papare. 

Certain animals appear to have been looked upon as 
peculiar to given marea and were carved upon them. Thus 
on the main posts of the new Kevori marea at Pinupaka there 
is a rough carving of a snake, immediately above the human 
face already described on p. 222; this snake was said to 

Fig. 26. Papares exhibited upon Waidara marea of Waima. 

commemorate or represent Paipai, a shape-changing ancestor, 
and to have originally been carved at his command. Again, 
it was said that until recently a snake was represented upon 
Haurama marea of the Waima settlement of Arabu Kupunu, 
while Rabao Rabi marea of the Waima settlement of Haura- 
miri formerly exhibited an effigy of a man armed with a bow 
and arrow. 

This fourth class of dada was said to have been absent 
from war marea. 


Marea usually appear to be more or less profusely deco- 
rated, for the dada carved upon their posts and the boards 
exhibited in them are often coloured black and carved in low 


Human-headed post in old clubhouse at Diumana, carved by Poa Oa 

Ornaments in Chtbhoiises 247 

relief, the intaglio areas being picked out in white or 

Further the edge of the kaiva is usually hung with a 
closely set series of strips of dried palm leaf, all of which are cut 
to the same length ; this gives a decorative effect to the kaiva, 
and when a similar fringe is continued along the edge of the 
eaves to within a few feet of the itara an extremely pleasing 
effect is produced. Some idea of this may be gathered from 
the pictures of marea given in Plates XXXIV and XXXV. 
It has already been explained that the majority of carvings 
upon marea are dada, but certain carvings occur upon the marea 
posts which are not daba at the present day, whatever may 
have been the case formerly, and which, when they appear 
upon newly built marea must be regarded as decorative in 
intent as well as in fact. Figure 27 (a) is a diagrammatic draw- 
ing of one of these carvings upon a post recently made for 
Kevori marea, the Roroaiera clubhouse, which it was expected 
would be built towards the end of 1904. This design was 
said to represent the sun and a vulva, but no reason could be 
given for this combination, and no meaning was attached to 
the rectangular pattern connecting the two objects \ Another 
instance of decorative carving in the marea is afforded by the 
human headed post which stands by the side of Kevori marea 
of Roroaiera, this is one of the posts of the old Kevori 7narea 
which preceded the present small building, and was carved 
by Poa Oa, and there are, or were until recently, posts of other 
old Waima marea terminating in the same type of human 
head. These heads occur again as the capitals of posts of 
the clubhouse of the Nara village of Diumana, which were 
also carved by Poa Oa, or under his direction. One of these 
posts is shown in Plate XXXVII. 

Figure 27 {b) is an instance found in a marea, of a design in 
low relief which is not an bada ; this pattern is by no means 
limited to marea, but is also found upon boards which enter 
into the structure of other buildings. The white triangles 
were said to represent dogs' teeth. 

Another ornament found upon marea is shown in figure 27 
(c), and a series of these ornaments made of the cortex of a 
climbing palm were worked round the free ends of a number 

^ Although it was not recognized, it can be shown that in all probability the 
vulva and rectangular design connecting it with the sun are derived from conven- 
tional representations of the crocodile. 


The Roro-speaking Tribes 

of horizontals forming part of the framework of the marea 
roof in Ekapaka marea of Barai Kupunu settlement of 




Fig. 27. Marea ornaments ; {a) sun and vulva design ; {b) dogs' teeth ; 
{c) ornament made of dried grass. 


The information embodied in these tables concerning the 
Roro tribe was collected by myself, that concerning the 
Paitana and Kevori tribes by Dr Strong, who is also jointly 
responsible with me for the information concerning the 
Waima tribe and the Bereina community. 

The fish itaba, the oaoa of a number of Waima local groups, 
was so constantly confused with another fish, akumu, that it 
would probably be equally correct in the list of Waima oaoa 
to substitute akumu (which is an oaoa of a number of local^ 
groups of the Roro tribe) for itaba. 

Clans, Clan-Badges and Clubhouses 249 








Ovia Pokina 

Akumu (gar- 

Kevori ^ 

Marea of the ovia itsipana. 



Not built, the marea of ovia 


Koae Kupunu 

Paia (a fish) 


Marea of the ovia itsipana. 
A battle marea\ its chief the 
ovia awarina. 


Parama Ku- 



Not built, the marea of the 
ovia itsipana. 

A battle marea., its chief the 
ovia awarifia, a poor build- 
ing in bad repair. 


Aitsi Noobi- 

A sea bird 


Not built. 


(perhaps the 
frigate bird) 


Not built, a battle marea\ its 
chief the ovia awarina. 


Aitsi Kupunu 



Not built at Siria, marea of 
ovia itsipana. 


Parama Ku- 



A paiha marea., not built, but 
it was said that it would 
shortly be erected. Dr Strong 
was told that its left side re- 
presented the ?narea of a war 

Marea of ovia awarina^ it was 
unfinished but fast approach- 
ing completion in June, 1904. 


Parama Ku- 

This is a small settlement of 
little importance and in 1904 
had no ?narea. 

^ These two marea together constitute the marea building commonly called Kevori marea, standing at 
i southern end of Siria village. 

' A very weak and scattered clan with no recognized chief. 

' This is the name of the Aitsi Kupunu marea now existing at Mou where Aitsi Kupunu clan appears 
oave settled. 


The RorO'Speaking Tribes 










Aitsi Kupunu 




Possibly an aruaru marea^ 
p. 238. 




This marea no longer exi 
in the old marea there w 
one or more posts on wh 
a crocodile was carved. 



Airava (the 



Wowo (a liz- 



Apena (cocka- 



Mairi (a cres- 
centic orna- 
ment of 



Ovia Pokina 

Rabia (sago) 


A battle marea. 




A battle marea. 


An ornament 
of pigs' teeth 


A battle marea. 




A battle marea. 


Ovia Pokina 








Not to be confused with Korina settlements of Waima. 

Clans, Clan-Badges and Chtbhouses 251 









Itaba^ a fish 
a garfish 
and perhaps 
nini a, small 

Rabau Rabi 

The figure of a man armed 
with a bow and arrow was 
said to have been formerly 
associated with this marea, 
which contained either an 
effigy of this man or a post 
carved with this design. 



Aieri (a che- 


Not built. Dr Strong states 


lonian, ? the 

that there is a post called 


fresh water 

hauramiri itutu which ap- 



pears to be associated with 


i *,'//* >«j- 


the Hauramiri stock of Hau- 
ramiri and Aihoa Kupunu 
settlements. It is a post with 
the vulva carved upon it. 
An aruaru marea and non- 
existent at the present time. 

Vihoa Kupunu 


Airava, and 


There is some reason to believe 
that this settlement once had 
another marea called Poiyo- 

Marea of ovia awarina and a 
battle marea (cf. p. 226). 














Probably an aruaru 7narea. 





A paiha marea. For feasts, 
and the usual marea cere- 
monies Robaiarobaia uses 
Kevoripaka marea of Roro- 
aiera local group of Arabure 

omo kupunu 






Airava and 
perhaps a 
snake called 



An aruaru marea. 

Only two posts left standing, 
one with a crocodile carved 
in low relief upon it. 






The Roro-speaking Tribes 


Arabu Kupuna 

Ereere Aiera Ereere 



Oa Ovia 

Roro Aiera 

Puro Erau 

Arabu re Ororo 






Itaba and per- 
haps iave- 
iave the 
white cock- 

Itaba and raia^ 
the 'crab- 
claw' laka- 
toi sail 


Uala (croco- 
dile) and ai- 



Bobo Rabi 


Itau Rabi 







There is some doubt whethe 
this settlement at one tim 
had another marea caller 

A paiha marea^ a snake of th 
kind called awara was i: 
some way associated wit 
this inarea^ in or on whic 
there was said to have bee 
formerly an effigy or carvin 
of this snake. 

Papares^ an "ornament" wa 
said to be associated wit 
this marea (cf. p. 246). 

This marea does not now exisi 
it is said to have belonged 
to an Ereere group fror 
This ?narea does not now exisi 
The name of the Ereere mare, 
of this settlement is uncer 

This is a comparatively youn; 
settlement in which no 7naf 
ea have yet been built. 

At Roroaiera there is a sing! 
post of the old Kevori inare 
bearing a crocodile carve 
in low relief standing by th 
side of the itara of the pr( 
sent Kevoripaka marea. Th 
old Kevoripaka was an aru 
aru marea. 

Uses the marea of Roro Aier 

A battle marea was said to t 
connected with veraura th 
sun in some unexplained wa; 

Burebure was an aruaru ma) 
ea., and is now represente 
by a single burnt post i 
Arabure Ororo Pokina. 
is said that before Burebui 
marea was built, there Wc' 
upon this site a marea calle 
Meauri Rabi, about whic 
nothing could be learnt. 

Clans, Clan- Badges and Clubhouses 253 








Airava ? and 
Ibaboro ? 
( Varanus 
sp.) and per- 
haps raia 


An arua7'u marea. Dr Strong 
was told that the oaoa of He- 
rahera settlement were a liz- 
ard something like a small 
crocodile and raia the crab- 
claw sail. There is some little 
doubt whether airava is an 
oaoa of this settlement, the 
fact that Tautaa was an aru- 
aru marea made it difficult 
to distinguish the oaoa asso- 
ciated with it (cf. p. 238). 

rai Kupunu 



An aruaru marea. 

ru Kupunu 




Both aria., a lizard 'like a small 
crocodile' and baravoa the 
monitor lizard were at differ- 
ent times given as the oaoa 
of this settlement. 

)io Kupunu 



An aruaru inarea. 

aha Ereana 



ivori Kone^ 






An aruaru marea. 




An aruaru marea. 



An aruaru marea. 









An aruaru marea. 

2vori Gunikai 




Arabu Kupunu 


A paiha marea. 

Uai Kupunu 

This local group or itsubu is 
said to have no 7narea and 
to have fused with Arabu 



A war 7narea. 
An aruaru marea. 

1 * Bereina, Kevori Kone and Kevori Gunikai are the names of groups of houses which are larger than 
I Waima settlements though they cannot be regarded as villages in the ordinary sense of the word. 
"^ [Probably the name of this marea might equally correctly be spelt Burebure the name of a former 
naru marea of one of the Waima settlements of Arabure itsubu.'] 


The Roro-speaking Tribes 








Koae Kupunu 



There are two marea of th 
name (cf. p. 225). 

Aihoa Kupunu 



The left side of this marea 
used by and is considered 
belong to the local group 
Ereere itsubu. 




A battle marea. 




Not built in 1 904, probably tl 
left side of Rouna marea 
called by this name. 

^ Rabau is one of the names of Yule Island, I cannot say what else it may mean, or if, as an bada, 
means the Island, in what sense this is a clan-badge. 



Among the Roro, names are derived from animals, plants 
and natural features, such as Aitsi (crawfish), Bio (cassowary), 
Kibia (red ant), Waia (dog), Abara (rain), Tou (river), 
Warupi, Kaima, Miria (names for different kinds of bananas), 
Kepa (banana haulm), and these names are given indifferently 
to girls or boys\ There is no obligation for anyone to avoid 
eating or even injuring the particular plant or animal after 
which he is called. 

Children are named when quite young, and it is usual 
for a child of either sex to receive two names, the second 
being its father's first name, and the first the name of a 
relative, or of any animal, plant or natural feature that might 
please the parents-. 

It was considered a compliment to choose a friend's name, 
but the friend would be equally honoured if his name were 
given to a favourite pig. 

Very often a child bears his father's names Inverted, thus, 
the son of Aitsi Bera is called Bera Aitsi. 

Name-changing does not take place, and Father Guis 
notes that the Roro do not use nicknames. 

Recently a Roro woman, who was seriously ill during 
childbirth, was carefully tended by a woman of another clan 
who was also a connection by marriage, and who suckled the 
sick woman's child for the first few days of its life. In 
gratitude, the child was given her foster-mother's name. 

^ This list is taken from Guis, Missions Catholiques^ 1898. 

2 Thus the best wood carver of the last generation in Waima was named Poa 
Oa, his son Maoni Poa, and his grandson Oa Maoni. 

256 TJie Roro-speaking Tribes 

Sometimes a name may be agreed upon before the child 
is born, thus a Roro woman who was pregnant during our 
visit had determined that if her child were a boy she would 
give it the name of a dead kinsman. Similarly an adopted 
child, if the arrangement has been made before the child is 
born, may take its adopter's name\ In such cases it 
appeared that if the man were a chief, the child might assume 
his adopted father's rank in the same way as an actual 
descendant, for by early adoption the child assumes the clan 
of its adopted father, into which it will not be allowed to 
marry, though marriage into the clan into which it was born 
would, it was said, as likely as not take place. Children are 
weaned comparatively late, so that a child is given a con- 
siderable amount of vegetable and fish food before it is 

The ears are pierced when the child is from six to eight 
years old, two holes being made in each ear, one in the lobe 
and the other in the concha just below the tip of the ear. 
The septum of the nose is pierced a year or two later, that is 
when the child is ten or eleven years of age^ There is no 
ceremony about either of these operations, which are usually 
performed with a stout thorn, the blood is washed away with 
water and a roll of leaves inserted into the wounds to prevent 
them closing. The boy who has been styled a miori since 
babyhood is still called miori after his ears and nose have 
been pierced. 


Some time after a boy has had his ears pierced and 
while he is still a miori, his father kills a dog which he 
first hangs to the front of his house, and then takes to the 
house of the boy's maternal uncle to whom he gives it^ If 

^ Guis notes that the right to impose a name may be bought, but does not say 
under what circumstances this occurs. 

^ At Waima I heard of a ceremony which takes place a few weeks after the 
birth of a child, but whether it occurs after the birth of every child, or only 
the firstborn, I cannot say. It was stated that at this ceremony one or more 
women carried bows or spears, so that possibly it is the analogue of the Koita 
ceremony described on pp. 71, 72. 

' The ages given in this section are based on the examination of a number of 
children in Siria village. 

* Guis states that hanging a dog to the front of a house is practically a public 
announcement to the effect that a son of that house is to be invested with the 

Initiation 257 

a dog is not available, a pig may be used, but this is not 
considered the right thing. Members of both sexes of the 
boy's mother's family eat the dog, and the boy is then sent to 
his uncle, who in his own house puts the itaburi on his 
nephew. The boy then returns to his father. The boy's 
father and his paternal relatives are not present when the 
itaburi is first put on the boy. Careful inquiry was made 
concerning this ceremony at different times and from different 
folk. It appeared that the dog given is in some sense the 
price paid for the assumption by the boy of the itaburi \ the 
dog is brought to the boy's mother's brother with explana- 
tions and excuses: "See we have killed this dog for you; 
it's a good fat dog ; you can't want anything more or be 
displeased with it ; suffer now that my son assume the 
itaburi.'' In one recent case the only dog a man had was 
killed by a baulk of wood falling on it ; although his son was 
then too young to assume itaburi he took the dead dog to 
the boy's maternal uncle, explaining that this was the only 
dog he had and that it had been accidentally killed, and that, 
when the time came for his boy to be invested with the itaburi, 
he expected that the uncle would remember this dog and 
ask for nothing more, and this was agreed. 


A boy when he has assumed the itaburi is still called 
miori, and remains so until or just before he reaches puberty, 
when at Roro he is called ibitoe ibitoe. As an ibitoe ibitoe 
a boy may, and does still take part in childish games as he 
did as a viiori, but he devotes less and less time to them. 
As puberty advances he becomes an ibitoe and should cease 
to sleep in his father's house, resorting to the marea instead. 
Although privileged, in that no very regular work was ex- 
pected of them, the ibitoe of Roro and Paitana tribes were 
subject to certain restrictions and disabilities, and were 
further subjected to certain conditions entailing in theory 
a certain amount of physical hardship. 

Except when dancing, no ibitoe should make use of the 
open space between the houses, which constitutes the main 
street of the village ; he must enter or leave the village by 
the clear space at the back of the houses. Ibitoe must not 

S. N. G. ^7 

258 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

be seen eating by members of the opposite sex\ nor would 
ibitoe as a rule eat with or in the presence of married men. 
The ibitoe were expected to obey the chief of their clan when 
big fishing, hunting or bush clearing operations were on hand, 
and also, if the occasion arose, to assist in building their 
7narea. In theory the ibitoe should fend for themselves, 
obtaining their food in the bush and from the sea by their own 
efforts. In point of fact they do catch a considerable quantity 
of hsh which they supplement by petty raids on the gardens and 
houses, no one thinking of objecting to such depredations, so 
long as the raiders take care not to be caught red-handed. 
Dancing and preparations for the dance are important factors 
in the life of an ibitoe, and many make drums for themselves, 
for although not compulsory this is considered the proper 
thing for an ibitoe to do. While making their drums, for 
which purpose three or four generally unite, they must live 
in the bush and avoid being seen by women. Many foods 
are forbidden to them, and they may only drink the water 
found in the axils of banana leaves or the milk of the coco- 
nut, and should avoid any contact with fresh water before the 
hollow of their drum has been charred and scraped into shape, 
under penalty of the embers, with which the hollow is charred, 
refusing to glow. Their food must be cooked in a particularly 
small pot called eiei, or they will themselves grow too stout 
to dance well, and if any of them eat fish, a fishbone will 
puncture the tympanum of the taboo-breaker's drum^ 


Careful inquiries made at Yule Island failed to elicit any- 
thing in the nature of a definite initiation ceremony for the 
ibitoe^ though it is obvious that the restrictions to which the 
ibitoe are supposed to submit would, if rigorously enforced, 
produce a good deal of bodily discomfort and, to a certain 
extent be the equivalent of the physical training so often given 
when boys enter manhood. At Waima on the other hand an 
elaborate ceremonial, with seclusion, was formerly undergone 
by boys, about the time of puberty. It is said that this 

^ The reason alleged for this is, that a girl who saw any of them eating would 
fear to contract marriage with a man requiring so much food and therefore, so 
much toil in the gardens from his wife. 

'^ These taboos and the penalties for infringing them are taken from Guis, 
op. cit. 



ceremonial is now entirely obsolete, and it was difficult to 
obtain details, so that while the following account is probably 
substantially correct as far as it goes, there are likely to be 
numerous omissions. The seclusion, which appears to have 
been the essential part of the aruaru ceremonial, as the 
initiation process was called, took place in marea called 
aruaru ^narea which were built especially for this purpose, and 
at Waima at least, put to no other use. 

Of the original Waima stocks {itsudu) Hauramiri, Arabure 
and Abiara each had an aruaru marea. Roro Aiera, a thriving 
settlement of the Arabure stock, which although originally an 
ordinary local group of this itsubu seems to have early 
attained a recognized position of comparative independence, 
also had an aruaru marea. Ereere stock was said to have 
had no aruaru m,area of its own, and its members used that 
of one of the other stocks. Aruaru marea were never used 
as sleeping places by the men, nor were feasts given there, 
except such as were connected with the initiation ceremonies 
carried on within them. From the remains of aruaru fnarea 
which have been pointed out to me, it is clear that in certain 
instances they were far bigger than any other marea\ some of 
the posts still standing betoken a length of no less than fifty 

The three early or original Waima aruaru marea were 
probably : 

Hauramiri m.area of Hauramiri Oki Pokina settlement of 
Hauramiri stock. 

Hiyohiyokia marea of Arabure settlement of Arabure 

Kevoripaka marea of Roro Aiera settlement of Arabure 

Other marea were built later, and the following additional 
aruaru marea still exist or did so until recently : 

Tautaa marea of Herahera settlement of Arabure stock. 

Burebure marea of Arabure Ororo Pokina settlement of 
. Arabure stock. 

I Iwamuru marea of Roio Kupunu settlement of Abiara 

Ekapaka marea of Barai Kupunu settlement of Abiara 

Probably Anapua marea of Taroba settlement of Haura- 
miri stock should be added to this list. 

17 — 2 

26o The Roro-speaking Tribes 

All the youths about to be initiated, no matter what their 
itsubii might be, were initiated together in one marea, and 
each aruarii marea appears to have been in turn the scene of 
the ceremony. 

In connection with the artiarti ceremonial it is necessary 
to point out that Waima has been considerably influenced on 
both the physical and social sides by its proximity to the 
Elema tribes of the Papuan Gulf, and it seems probable that 
the aruarii customs are a modification of the more elaborate 
Elema initiation ceremonies which take place in the eravo 
(clubhouses) during the long period of seclusion of the 
initiates. It is much in favour of this view that the aruaru 
ceremonial does not occur among the Roro, the furthest 
removed from Gulf influence of the Roro-speaking tribes. 
Further, when it is found that a portion of the Elema initiation 
ceremonial consists of periods of residence in the eravo (club- 
house) during which the boy is taught to make armbands and 
dancing ornaments, the matter seems to admit of no dispute\ 


Boys about ten years of age as well as older lads ap- 
proaching puberty, all called miori, were initiated together. 
They were painted red and taken to one of the aruaru marea 
in the back compartment of which they were confined during 
the hours of daylight, for about two months. At night they 
were allowed to slip out but not to visit their parents' houses. 

^ The evidence showing that on the physical side Waima has been much 
influenced by its proximity to the Elema tribes will be given elsewhere. This is 
not the place to discuss the matter from the social standpoint, but reference may 
be made to the striking fact that Gulf masks not found among the Roro or Paitana 
tribes, are used by the Waima tribe who call them kaivakuku. I am indebted 
to Captain Barton for the following account of the first part of the boy's initiation 
ceremonial at Lese, a village of one of the Elema tribes. 

* When a boy is about five years old his father makes a hibiscus bark belt, called 
kuva, with a dependent tassel in front and fastens it round the boy's waist. From 
time to time as the boy grows bigger, the old /cava is cast away and a larger one 
made, boys of about seven years and upwards making their own kava. When the 
boy's pubes begin to enlarge he pushes an extra tassel inside the front of the belt, 
and goes on adding one from time to time until he has four such tassels. He then 
goes into seclusion in his eravo and remains there for some months, during which 
time he is taught to make arm-bands and other ornaments. He lives in the back 
part of the eravo and at night sleeps in the upper storey. When his seclusion is 
over his hair is allowed to grow, and he covers his face and chest with coconut oil, 
coloured with paira (red earth), he decorates himself with fragrant herbs and 
saunters about in the company of the boys who have passed the first seclusion 
period with him.' 

Initiation 261 

Under the direction of the older men who daily visited them 
they made armlets, belts [ropo), leglets {apa), anklets [abde), 
and wristlets {prope). Their food was prepared for them by 
their relatives in the usual way and given to boys, too young 
to be themselves initiated, who passed it to the aruaru 
initiates through small holes broken in the sides of the back 
compartment of the 7narea. The whole affair was under the 
supervision of the aruaru chief who was the ovia itsipana of 
the particular aruaru marea in which the initiates were 
confined. When he considered that the boys had been 
sufficiently trained, he told the people to make a feast. 
Everyone killed pigs and brought cooked food, which was 
placed on the ground in the middle of the village, or in front 
of the aruaru marea, and a dance was held in which both men 
and women took part. In this dance the men wore the 
peculiar gong or rattle-like instrument called iu shown in 
figure 28\ When the dance was finished the chief announced 
from the marea platform that the boys within had completed 
their belts, anklets and so forth. The initiates, still called 
aruaru, left the ^narea without any ceremony and went to their 
parents' houses w^here their mothers at first feigned not to 
recognize them. 

After this the aruaru stay about the village for a period 
estimated at about two months, they are said to carry on 
numerous flirtations, and when dancing, wear the iu. They 
are then secluded in the marea for another month. At the 
end of this time they are supposed to fast for one day, but it 
seems to have been a point of honour for every two boys to 
open and eat at least one coconut without making any noise 
while breaking the shell. Towards the evening of the day of 
fasting, the chief mounts the verandah noisily and looks 
through the chinks between the sago stalks forming the 
anterior wall of the back compartment of the marea. He 
sees the aruaru lying about in attitudes indicative of ex- 
haustion due to hunger and fatigue, which were assumed 
when his step was heard on the verandah. He sees that 
they are hungry and calls for food, which he and other old 
men take to the aruaru, who eat it. During this period of 

^ The iu is worn on one side suspended from the waist. It consists of the 
basal portion of the axis of a sago frond in front of which are suspended two sticks, 
so arranged as to strike against the sago frond whenever the leg is raised in 
dancing. A more elaborate example of the iu, presumably from the Papuan Gulf, 
is figured by Mr J. Edge Partington {Album of the Pacific Islands, Series i, p. 301). 


The Roro-speaking Tribes 

seclusion the old men have shown the initiates how to make 
iu, the framework {ita7'etare) of the dancing masks called 
vera, dancing plumes and pearl shell crescents. The initiates 
wear these ornaments some time later when they leave the 
seclusion of the marea to dance, but they discard their finery 
on their return after a couple of days. They again stay in 
the marea, while each boy makes a mask called bahoro, 
described as being Mike a hat' When these are made the 
initiates leave the marea for one day wearing the bakoro, and 
take part in a dance. They then return to the marea for 
a short time, perhaps one day, and make a basket-work 

Fig. 28. lu. 

ornament, after which they dance for one day. Again the 
initiates return to the marea and make another basket-work 
ornament called kokoai. The next day they come out fully 
decked with vera, iu, itaretare and three or four mairi ; they 
stay about the village for a couple of days and then return to 
the marea, where they discard their ornaments, which now 
become the property of the older, fully initiated men called 
buiapu who have taught the aruaru to make them. The buiapu 
and the initiates go wallaby hunting, the latter leaving the 
village at night and meeting the former soon after daybreak. 
The wallaby, as well as any other game killed, is brought to the 

^ aUooing of Cirh 263 

chief by the buiapu of the aruaru marea. The initiates stay 
in the bush, and only approach the village at dusk, when they 
slip into the marea. Here the chief asks them if they are not 
yet weary of their seclusion ; although the aruaru return no 
answer, they know that it now rests with them to end their 
seclusion, which terminates as soon as one of their number 
has had connection. 

It has already been stated that the initiates are allowed to 
leave the marea at night, when they should be so wrapped in 
bark-cloth as to be unrecognizable. Like all natives of this 
part of New Guinea when moving about at night they go in 
couples ; accordingly, when the time to terminate the seclusion 
of the initiates has arrived, one or more couples quietly leave 
the marea, and look for girls willing to receive them whom 
they usually marry later. 

Initiation was considered complete at the termination of 
the period of seclusion, and the initiates previously called 
m,iori were afterwards called buiapu. 

The following additional information was collected by 
Dr Strong at Waima. ^ Every male had formerly to go 
through the aruaru ceremonial, as a rule this was done before 
marriage, but apparently there were exceptions. The cere- 
mony appears to have begun about the time of the south-east 
monsoon, that is in April, and lasted for about a year ; during 
the period of initiation four ceremonial dances were held ; the 
aruaru initiates performed a special dance at each, while the 
older men of the tribe danced the ordinary dances at some little 
distance, the initiates, also, wore special decorations for each 
danced The first dance was called bite, and took place soon 
after the beginning of the seclusion period and while the 
south-east wind was still moderate. It was said that for this 
dance the initiates were ornamented with feathers ; the second 
dance took place when the south-east wind was at its height; 
It was called oare and, while dancing It, the initiates wore 
some kind of cover which prevented them from being 
recognized. The third dance was called aunapaka and was 
held when the south-east wind had nearly blown itself out; in 
this dance, again, the initiates were covered, their bodies 
being more completely hidden than In the previous dance. The 
last dance was called vakivaki and for this the boys were 
decorated with the leaves of a plant, perhaps a palm ; this 

^ [Doubtless the ornaments they had made while secluded in the marea.'\ 

264 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

dance took place at the beginning of the north-west monsoon, 
that is, about the end of December. During the whole of 
their seclusion the initiates were only allowed out at night\ 
and then they were completely covered with wraps made of 
the spathe sheathing the leaves of the coconut palm, or some 
similar covering. Seclusion ended for the whole batch of 
initiates when one of their members had had connection with 
a girl who afterwards would become this boy's wife. Soon 
after their release from the marea the initiates made gardens, 
called iciama, for the chiefs of the marea in which they had 
been secluded.' 

A circular piece of basket-work, lopo, was worn as follows : 
the hair was passed through the central opening, so that the 
inner rim of the basket-work rested on the head, and the hair, 
or part of it, was then plastered down (presumably with clay) 
so that it lay iiat on the basket-work, when ornamental 
markings were made on it with lime and perhaps red ochre. 
A half-moon shaped basket is called kokoai ; it was worn by 
the initiates while they walked about and was also part of the 
full dress of the boys at one of the ceremonial dances. It 
was worn vertically upon the head, the hair being described 
as compressed between the two halves of the basket-work. 


There is no ceremony when a girl is first put into petti- 
coats, which are here called kiva, nor is there any fixed age 
for this, the matter depending upon the fancy of the child's 
mother, but always taking place at an earlier age than 
that at which boys assume the itaburi, indeed it is not un- 
common to see tiny children who cannot be more than three 
years old tottering about in a kiva. From infancy until 
a girl is considered nubile, i.e. until her face has been 
tattooed, she is called wawaho. While quite young a girl 
accompanies her mother to the garden, and insensibly begins 
to pick up a knowledge of the work, and to be a help to her 

The women of the Roro-speaking tribes are all tattooed 
from head to foot. Tattooing is begun when a girl is 5 — 10 
years of age, the hands and arms being first treated; tattooing 
these parts produces no great pain. Later the belly, chest 

^ Except of course during the dances already alluded to. 

Plate XXXIX 

Copyright l^y the Rev. II. M. Dauncey 

Waho at Waima 

Tattooing of Girls 265 

and back are done. The work is performed by some old 
woman skilled in the art, and generally a relative of the girl ; 
in any case she is fed by the girl's mother if she does not do 
the tattooing herself, but is apparently not otherwise paid for 
her services. The pigment used consists of the soot from the 
bottom of a pot, mixed with a little water, and this is applied 
with a fragment of wood, the end of which has been frayed 
out so as to form a coarse brush, and the colour is pricked 
in. This is done by gently tapping with a mallet consisting 
of a short piece of wood round one end of which is wound 
a strip of native cloth, upon the back of a piece of wood from 
the opposite aspect of which one or more thorns project at 
right angles to the long axis of the instrument. The designs 
tattooed upon the body are well shown in Plate XXXVIII. 

When the girl is considered to be of a marriageable age 
the buttocks, legs, and last of all the face, are tattooed, a 
small feast being given before work on the buttocks is begun. 
On the day the head and face are to be tattooed, the head is 
shaved, and the girls' relatives fix the date for a feast, which 
is usually held five days later, because experience has shown 
that this time is required for the soreness to become less 
severe, and for the crusts to separate. On the day of the 
feast the necessary finishing touches are given, and that 
afternoon the girl is considered nubile and is styled waho. 
She is ornamented with all the valuable shell and other 
ornaments that her family can borrow for her ; members of 
both her father's and mother's clan lending their valuables. 

Plate XXXIX reproduced from a photograph by the 
Rev. H. M. Dauncey, shows the number and beauty of the 
ornaments worn by the waho. It will be noted that two of 
the girls are wearing ornaments which closely resemble the 
insignium of chieftainship shown in figure 18 ; presumably 
this indicates that they are related to chiefs. 

No dance takes place, but a feast is made in the afternoon, 
in the girl's father s house, at which the girl may eat some of 
the food, though, as a matter of fact, she is usually too sore to 
do more than taste it, for tattooing the face, especially around 
the lips, is an extremely painful process. Decked in her 
finery, the girl parades ceremonially up and down the centre 
of the village for a short time, and for five days after this she 
should sit upon the verandah of her father's house for the 
greater part of each day, wearing all her ornaments. During 

266 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

this time she is rove, she may only walk down the centre of the 
village, she may not help her mother with her garden, neither 
may she cook food nor fetch water ; she may not touch her 
food with her hands, but must pick it up with a fork, the 
handle of which is wrapped in a banana leaf. Part of the 
time may be spent in visiting and gossiping with other waho. 
After five days the ornaments borrowed from all except her 
very near relatives are returned, but she keeps those provided 
by her own people. Although she is now allowed to feed 
herself and help her mother in the gardens, she still wears her 
ornaments each afternoon, and saunters about the village 
street, or sits publicly upon her father's verandah. She also 
joins in all the dances that take place. This sort of life 
continues for four or five months, by which time her hair has 
grown again, and she is considered fit for matrimony, when 
her status-term is buiapu (Waima). 



Until about forty years ago when the Roro left the 
neighbourhood of Maiaera on the mainland, their men 
generally took wives from their own or from other Roro 
villages, though there were always a few marriages with the 
Waima, Paitana and j Mari^ai) tribes, and less commonly with kdjihthL /Cf 
Mekeo. Matters have not altered much in this respect, ^'«'^''"'* 

though of late years marriages outside the tribe are stated to 
have become somewhat more common. 

The marriage ceremonies of the Roro have been most 
picturesquely described by the Rev. Father Guis and his 
description has been taken as the basis of the following 
account. The only part of the celebration which I have 
witnessed is the highly ceremonial first visit of the bride to 
her parents' house after her marriage\ 

When a youth is of an age to be married, his father asks the 
members of his local group to help him to collect the bride- 
price, Ae^e, for his son". No difficulty is made, and when 
sufficient valuables have been got together the boy's father, 
carrying the bride-price, goes with two or three of his itsubtt 
to the house of the father of the girl he wishes his son to 
marry. The convention is that at this stage of the proceed- 

^ My thanks are due to the Rev. Father Ernest Guibaud for additional infor- 
mation about the Roro marriage ceremonies, as well as for much tedious interpret- 
ing in connection with these and cognate matters. 

2 The value of the ornaments collected and paid is considerable. Aihi Naime 
of the Waima settlement Ereere stated that his folk had paid for his wife Aiva of 
Taroba settlement 3 pearl-shell neck ornaments {jnairi)^ 3 conus arm shells {toia\ 
10 fathoms of Nassa shell currency {?novio\ 5 headdresses made of the feathers of 
a species of Channosyna called enehi and one dogs' teeth necklace, i pig and 
2 ibabiri, the latter a feather ornament, the exact nature of which was not clear. 
The greater part of this payment went, not to the father of Aiva, but to the 
members of her local group, all of whom helped to eat the pig at a feast held in her 
father's house. 

268 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

ings the bride has no idea of what is going on. The boy's 
folk lay out the bride-price on the verandah, and seat them- 
selves gravely by it without saying a word, leaving the next 
move to the girl's father. The presents offered are mairi, 
tola, some fathoms of movio, birds of paradise feathers, one 
or more dancing petticoats, and invariably a panicle of ripe 
areca nut. 

The girl's family who have gathered in the house in 
anticipation come out and criticise the presents, but are 
careful not to touch anything, as that would imply acquies- 
cence, before which there is usually some bargaining. The 
head of the girl's family, usually her father, will say that the 
bridegroom's folk have not offered enough. The latter 
dissent, but add further valuables, until the girl's people are 

It was stated that, in theory, should the girl's family be 
averse to the marriage, its members would retire into the 
house without saying a word, when the boy's people would go 
home. But if all goes well the girl's father piles the bride- 
price into a heap, and, taking an areca nut from the bunch 
brought by the bridegroom's father, tears off the husk with his 
teeth, and biting it in half gives one piece to the bridegroom's 
father. As soon as each of the contracting parties has chewed 
his half of the nut, the relatives of the bride and bridegroom 
smoke and chew together, boasting of the number of pigs that 
will be killed for the marriage and discussing the possibility of 
a fat dog forming part of the feast. After the boy's relatives 
have left, the bride's father shares the bride-price among his 
relatives and the members of his local group. 

On the wedding day a party of men belonging to the 
bridegroom's local group but not including the bridegroom, 
surround the house of the girl's parents and carry it by mimic 
assault, with great fury and shouting. The bride rushes out, 
and runs away as fast as she can, and although she is soon 
overtaken and caught, she defends herself to the best of her 
ability, with hands, feet and teeth. Meanwhile a sham fight 
rages between the adherents of the bride and bridegroom. 
In the midst of the commotion is the bride's mother armed 
with a wooden club or digging stick, striking at every inani- 
mate object within reach and shouting curses on the ravishers 
of her daughter. Finding this useless, she collapses, weeping 
for the loss of her child. The other women of the village 

Marriage 269 

join in the weeping. The girl's mother should keep up the 
appearance of extravagant grief for three days, and she alone 
of the girl's relations does not accompany the bride to her 
father-in-law's house. With the bride go the members of 
both local groups, who form a small procession, the bride's 
kin giving her advice, while her friends, the young girls of 
the village, express their regret for her future absence from 
their dances. If any of the bride's relatives strongly dis- 
approve of the marriage, they may refrain from joining the 

When the bridegroom sees the bridal procession coming, 
he hides in the marea, but his companions, the ibitoe of the 
village, soon drag him forth, and then, disregarding his com- 
plaints, they paint and decorate him, and so bring him to his 
father's house to which the bride has already come. Here he 
is made to sit down near the bride w^hile the onlookers call 
out, 'So-and-so is married to so-and-so! Hou ah! ... Hou 
ah! ... Hou ah! ....' Guis notes that this constitutes the 
formal recognition of the marriage by the tribe. 

The bridegroom and bride take no notice of each other, 
the former talks to his friends and ignores his bride, who 
equally pays no attention to him. In the evening the bride- 
groom leaves the house to sleep in the marea, while the bride 
sleeps in her father-in-law's house. 

Next morning, the bride's father stands outside the house 
of the bridegroom's father, and abuses the latter, until he is 
pacified by the gift of a dog, which is killed for him. A mock 
pillage of houses and gardens of the boy's local group also 
takes place, though it is clear that no expensive shell orna- 
ments or other really valuable property, such as fishing nets, 
would be taken. Cooking pots and dishes are taken or 
broken, and ripe fruit is carried off from the gardens, but care 
is taken to do no permanent harm to the crops, and the 
damage effected seems to be further limited by the common 
understanding that only the near relatives of the bridegroom 
should be plundered. In the afternoon the bridegroom's 
relatives paint the bride, and deck her with their best shell 
ornaments, and her husband is again brought to the verandah ot 
his father's house. Again, the young couple ignore each other, 
though the next day, when they are again brought together, 
an understanding is usually established. Guis states that this 
occurs when the bride hands her husband betel and lime. 

270 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

On the fourth day the girl's mother usually comes to visit her 
daughter, and when she sees her weeps more copiously and 
groans more loudly than ever, until a pig is brought in and 
killed for her. Then her groans give place to praises of the 
generosity of her son-in-law and his family. 

Although the young couple have been reconciled to each 
other, cohabitation is not supposed to begin for a few weeks, 
and the boy still sleeps in the Tnarea, while his wife sleeps in 
her father-in-law's house. It appeared, however, that in 
most cases intercourse takes place in or near the gardens 
soon after marriage. It was stated that formerly it was not 
customary for a woman to have children until her garden was 
bearing well, that is to say, until she had been married 
from one to two years. To what extent this rule was 
adhered to, and how this result was brought about, I am 
unable to say. 

For the first few weeks after marriage the bride decorates 
herself each afternoon, as she did when her face was tattooed, 
and spends the end of the day visiting and gossiping with her 
friends, as she did at that time. 

The second part of the marriage ceremonies takes place 
some three to eight weeks later, and although it appeared that 
this might tally with the official consummation of the marriage 
I am not certain of this. 

The bride's kin give notice to the bridegroom's folk that 
they are ready to receive them. They then catch many fish 
and bring a big supply of bananas to their village. The 
bridegroom's local group bring pigs and valuable feather 
headdresses and shell jewellery and march to the village of 
the bride's father with the bride, who is decked in some of the 
best of the jewellery, at the head of the procession. The pigs 
are slung upon a pole carried by two men in the usual New 
Guinea way, and the feather ornaments though not unrolled 
or displayed in any way are similarly carried. The pigs and 
feathers are given to the bride's father, after a little talk the 
bride is stripped of the ornaments she has worn which are 
given to her father, who in return gives fish and bananas to 
the bridegroom's folk. This food is carried to their village 
where all who have helped to provide the bride-price par- 
take of it. 

Until this ceremony takes place the bride is not allowed 
to visit her father's village or to eat food brought from it. 

Marriage 271 

The bridegroom's people leave their pigs at the house of 
the bride's father. They are killed and eaten next day by 
all the men of the bride's local group, and if the bride be 
a chief's daughter these pigs are eaten upon the 77zarea. 
After this feast the presents brought by the bridegroom are 
distributed, but, this time, only among the near relatives of the 
bride. A few days later, the young couple again visit the 
bride's village, when presents are made to them. If the 
bride has an unmarried sister the bridegroom's share of the 
gifts are presented to him by this girl. 

The above elaborate ceremonial only takes place when all 
has gone regularly, when the young couple have been betrothed 
by their parents, and the dowry paid in the regular manner. 
But elopements, which seem always to have occurred, are 
common at the present time, and may be expected to become 
even more frequent, since the members of the Sacred Heart 
Mission having found that such love matches commonly turn 
out well, exert themselves to conciliate the offended parents. 
The chief cause of elopements seems to be unwillingness on 
the part of the girl's father to accept what is generally con- 
sidered to be a fair price for his daughter. The young folk will 
then take to the bush for a couple of days, after which the 
bridegroom leaves the bride in charge of his clan and bestirs 
himself to make his peace with the girl's relatives, the gift of 
a pig being an early and generally successful step in this 
direction, after which a price agreeable to both local groups 
is arranged. 

Clan exogamy is strictly insisted upon, but it seemed that 
a widow was allowed to remarry into her first husband's clan. 
Although a married woman does not formally retain her 
maiden itsubu, her relatives and kin continue to take sufficient 
interest in their clanswoman to actively resent injury done to 
her, and even to attempt to start a vendetta directed against her 
husband, should he be considered responsible for her death, 
as in the following instance. 

Abia Koai, a young woman of Ovia Pokina itsubu, said to 
be about twenty years of age, married Koaba Warupi of 
Korena itsubu^. Abia Koai is described as being less than 
averagely intelligent, and, after a few months of continual 
quarrelling with her mother-in-law, she hung herself in her 

^ Unfortunately no note was made of the village or villages of this couple. 

272 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

house. Her itsubu sought vengeance on her husband and 
her father tried, to kill him ; he was however protected by 
the members of his itsubu. In this particular case quiet 
was restored by the Mission before bloodshed had taken 




Wailing for the dead begins Immediately after death. 
All the women who are at all nearly related to the deceased 
take part, and most of them succeed in producing a series of 
piercing wails which, with intermission for rest, they manage 
to keep up for some hours. The widow of the deceased and 
other near female relatives will rub, embrace and lick the 
corpse, crying to the dead man to return to them. Meanwhile 
the father, brother and cousins of the deceased arrange the 
limbs and close the eyes of the corpse, which lies on its back, 
its head propped forward on its chest by a shield held in 
position by two spears struck into the floor boards of the 
house. Father Guibaud informed me that the occurrence of a 
death is notified by the blowing of a shell trumpet, the note 
produced being the same whatever the sex or rank of the 
deceased. All the women of the village were said to wail 
around the deceased, and, until lately, his wife and near 
female relatives would gash their scalps with sharp fragments 
of shell until the blood streamed from their heads, and it was 
said that so much blood was sometimes lost that fainting 
ensued. For a commoner a death chair, called aiyaiyai^ is 
prepared and set up in the midst of the village, but for a 
chief it is set up on the verandah of his marea. The dead 
man would be decked in his full dancing costume and painted 
as for a dance. In the case of a chief his insignium of 
chieftainship, the ornament eaii rove, made of boars' tusks, 
would be hung round his neck. 

Father Guibaud told me that there was usually a certain 
amount of unrest in a village after a death had occurred ; there 
would be the question of how, and on whom, vengeance should 

S. N. G. 1 8 

274 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

be taken for the death of a clansman by sorcery, and It was 
common to meet men with spears in their hands and in a more 
or less excited conditIon\ 

At Waima a death chair, aiyaiyai, was seen on the 
verandah of a marea ; it resembled the Koita sede (cf. p. i6o) 
but was low-backed, and only just big enough to seat the 
corpse. Above it, from the front of the ma^'-ea, were hung 
a kaivakuku mask, and a number of mouldering yams. Guis, 
without mentioning the village, gives a drawing of a * dead 
chief which shows the body of an adult native on the floor of 
the verandah of a house or marea supported in a more or less 
sitting posture by a shield lashed to a couple of uprights^ 

On the day after a man's death many of his effects, but 
not his jewellery, are broken or damaged and hung beneath 
the eaves of his house, which usually is not again inhabited 
and is allowed to decay. It was said that when the vegetables 
planted by the dead man became ripe they were also hung to 
the eaves of the house and allowed to rot. Probably this 
is the explanation of the yams to which reference has already 
been made. 

After about twenty-four hours' exposure on the aiyaiyai, 
the corpse is stripped of its ornaments and wrapped in a mat, 
which at Waima is splinted round with midribs of the fronds 
of the sago palm. A pole is attached to the bundle for the 
purpose of transporting it to the place of burial, formerly 
under the floor of the house of the deceased. Here the men 
of the local group dug a shallow grave, not more than from 
one to two feet deep, in which the corpse was placed, usually 
with the head turned towards the rising sun. When the body 

^ Recently there was strong feeling on Yule Island and at Pinupaka against 
one Miria Aitsi of Delena who was considered to have slain a number of men by 
sorcery. Captain Barton landed at Pokama and found a number of Yule Island 
canoes which had landed their crews of armed men while others were coming 
across the straits. A dance, the object of which was to excite the warriors, was 
in progress on the beach, and Captain Barton was told that the party intended 
to make a demonstration against Miria. Captain Barton hurried across the neck 
between Pokama and Delena ahead of the hostile party and stood in front of the 
house upon the verandah of which sat Miria and his wife. Two or three men 
spoke fiercely against Miria, his side being maintained by his fellow villagers. 
About this time a number of the native constabulary came up and both parties 
became profoundly pacific, the Yule Islanders assuring Captain Barton that nothing 
was further from their minds than bloodshed, and that they had only come to warn 
Miria to amend his ways. 

^ Missions Catholiques^ April, 1902, where it is stated 'that a commoner lies on 
his back on the marea with his head somewhat raised, leaning against the "post of 
honour," by which presumably is meant the front central pole {kupua) of the mareay 

Funeral Ceremonies 275 

is in the grave, a near male relative takes a branch of a tree, 
no special kind is prescribed, and strokes the corpse twice 
from foot to head to drive away the spirit of the dead man 
which was said to be called beriwa, a rather general term for 
spirits and one not limited in its application to the spirits 
of the dead\ For a month or two afterwards a relative lights 
a fire on the grave at nights. It was stated that this was 
done to keep the dead man warm. 

A part of the dead man's property was formerly buried 
with him. Chalmers, speaking of the burial of a chief of 
Waima, whom he calls Oa, says : ' On arriving at Maiva I was 
first led into Oa's house, and made to sit on a mat spread 
on the top of his grave.... The present I intended for him 
I placed on his grave, and retired. Many things had been 
buried with him, and at the head of his grave were stuck 
spears, bows and arrows, and, hanging on them, frontlets, 
armlets, necklaces, and large ear-pendantsl' 

Further a few of the objects which had belonged to a 
chief would be exposed in the ;;^^r^^ after his death. In 1904 
the front central post (kupua) of Oroi marea of the Waima 
settlement Ehoho, had attached to it a small tightly corded 
bundle of hair of the recently dead chief, as well as a cassowary 
bone spatula, a feather headdress and a bamboo tobacco pipe, 
all of which were the property of the deceased. 

A whole village will mourn for a chief, and perhaps for an 
influential man, for from six to ten days, by abstaining from 
fishing, hunting, and pot-making, and by reducing garden- 
work to a minimum. This village mourning was said to 
terminate when the near relatives of the deceased removed 
from the aiyaiyai a number of coconut leaves hung over 
it when first built. When these are taken down a small 
feast is held. Only the adults of the family and local 
group of the deceased take part in the prolonged mourning 
ceremonies that take place subsequent to the burial. Guis, 

^ Guis notes that at Yule Island the body is buried with its feet directed 
towards Mt Yule, which hereabouts is called Kovio. This is done to prevent 
the (spirit of the) dead man scaring away the fish by walking along the 
strand. Then, according to the same author, two men stroke the corpse from 
head to foot to drive away the spirit. This is done with a herb called periine^ 
apparently a species of Ocwium^ and after the spirit has been swept from the 
corpse it is chased by the same two men shouting and brandishing sticks and 
torches beyond the borders of the village to the edge of the bush where with a last 
curse they hurl at it the sticks or torches they have in their hands. 

2 Pioneering in New Guinea^ London, 1887, p. 272. 


276 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

however, notes that at Waima children may cut off a few 
locks of their hair as a sign of mourning. The widow or 
w^idower has to remain in the house as much as possible for 
from four to eight or ten months after the death of his or her 
spouse. Further, a widow or widower must go out only by 
the back of the house, and must then be so well wrapped up 
that his or her face cannot be seen by any person of the 
opposite sex. A widow or widower may not pass along 
the main street between the houses while still wearing any 
signs of mourning, but, when entering or leaving the village, 
must slip quietly along the back of the houses. 

Guis states that for the first few weeks after her husband's 
death a widow should not leave her house in the usual manner, 
but should let herself down heavily so as to simulate falling 
or rolling from her house ; she should for some little time after 
the death of her husband be supported on the arms of her 
friends whenever she goes abroad. Should she have heard 
of her husband's death while working in the garden she may 
not return to the village on foot, but must be carried on 
another woman's back. Both sexes shave the head as a sign 
of mourning. 

Certain kinds of yams and bananas are forbidden to widows 
and widowers. A widow may not eat wallaby, pig, fish or 
banana, though she would eat the cooked haulm of the banana, 
too poor a food to be eaten on other occasions except in times 
of scarcity. A widower avoids shell fish and eats only two 
kinds of banana called warupi and kaima, he does not eat 
yams, though he may eat sweet potatoes. 

At some period after a death, but whether this period 
is measured by days or weeks I cannot say, a big feast is 
held. The relatives of the deceased provide a large supply of 
fish and game, and the chief mourner is blackened from head - 
to foot. After this feast he or she may leave the house ik 
freely, though the open space constituting the centre of the 
village must still be avoided and the chief mourner, if a 
woman, must still keep her head and face covered. 

An indefinite number of net collars called waro and of 
armlets are worn round the neck and on the upper arms of 
widows and widowers ; both are assumed at the time of the 
blackening. A widower in addition wears leglets, a belt, and 
he should adopt a special form of string for holding up his 
perineal bandage. The widow wears a long petticoat, and 

Mourning Customs 277 

mourners, other than widow and widower though they blacken 
the rest of their bodies, leave the face untouched. 

The widow or widower wears the above mourning garb 
for one or two years (unless, as rarely happens, a widow re- 
marries before this time has elapsed), that is until it is removed 
by a relative of the deceased at the last mourning feast. 

There are no taboos on the name of the deceased. If 
unusual noises and creakings are heard coming from the dead 
man's deserted house, it is a sign that his spirit has returned, 
and it was said that special measures might be taken to drive 
the spirit away. 



The belief in magic and sorcery is at least as firmly rooted 
in the Roro-Mekeo region as elsewhere in the Possession, 
and certainly bulks more largely in the daily life of the people 
of this area than in the other parts of British New Guinea 
with which I am acquainted. 

Great difficulty was experienced in both the Roro and 
Mekeo districts in obtaining information on all matters con- 
nected with sorcery and magic. This was due not only to the 
natural dislike entertained by the natives to discussing secret 
and mysterious processes with strangers, but also to a very 
real fear of the results of government interference, for sorcery 
is an indictable offence in British New Guinea, and a number 
of sorcerers have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment in 
the gaol at Port Moresby for having exercised their profession. 

A further reason for secrecy was the close association with 
warfare of a certain class of ' medicine man ' or departmental 
expert, the paiha chiefs (alluded to on p. 217), which, as 
the village constable of Rapa village told Dr Strong, made 
him afraid to speak to white men of their clubhouses, the 
paiha marea (cf. pp. 295 et seq.\ 

It was indeed impossible to obtain first hand accounts 
of the processes employed in order to produce disease and 
death, and what follows on these subjects, is no more than 
the embodiment of the views of a number of averagely in- 
telligent lay natives, and the experience of a few white men, 
for the most part government officers, who have had the 
belief in magic and sorcery brought to their notice by pro- 
ceedings in the law courts. 

Before discussing the technique of supposed magical 
processes it is necessary to say something concerning the 
attitude of the Roro-speaking folk towards their sorcerers and 

Magic and Sorcery 279 

practitioners of magic\ It must in the first place be re- 
membered, that except in the case of very old folk, death 
is not admitted to occur without some obvious cause such 
as a spear thrust. Therefore when vigorous and active 
members of the community die, it becomes necessary to 
explain their fate, and such deaths are firmly believed to 
be produced by sorcery. Indeed, as far as I have been 
able to ascertain, the Papuasian of this district regards the 
existence of sorcery, not as has been alleged, as a par- 
ticularly terrifying and horrible affair, but as a necessary and 
inevitable condition of existence in the world as he knows 
it, so that the Roro-speaking tribes look on sorcery in the 
abstract with no more horror or fear than Europeans in their 
prime regard old age and death. Hence the attitude of lay 
natives towards sorcerers, the practitioners of this necessary 
art, is not theoretically characterised by any particular fear or 
horror, nor does any fear or horror appear in practice, though 
there are undoubted instances when sorcerers who have pre- 
sumed on their powers to interfere in the domestic affairs of 
their comrades, have been killed or driven out of a village^ 
With exceptions such as these the attitude of the natives 
towards the individuals they recognize as sorcerers is one of 
perfect good fellowship; indeed a sorcerer may have great 
influence in his own village, and not only may not be feared 
but may be regarded generally as a real protection, for besides 
being able to thwart the acts of sorcerers of other villages, the 
latter will, it is supposed, refrain from hostile magic in order 
not to provoke reprisals. I have no doubt that in many 
instances sorcerers actually believe in their own powers, and a 
well-known sorcerer explained to Captain Barton that he was 
scarcely a free agent in the matter, since his father had been a 
sorcerer before him, and it was but natural that the power 
should pass to him. 

At Mou I had the opportunity of watching the relations 

^ In this section I have endeavoured to limit myself to the magic and sorcery 
of the Roro-speaking tribes, but since these and the Mekeo folk appear to have 
many substantially similar, if not identical beliefs and practices in matters of 
sorcery, it is certain that a portion of the information given as applying to the 
Roro-speaking tribes is equally applicable to those of Mekeo. 

2 Tata Ko, well known throughout the district as a sorcerer, fled from Waima 
to Mou in fear of his life, but he had admittedly been interfering in the domestic 
affairs of a number of Waima folk. It was stated that Beata Ko, an elder brother 
of Tata Ko, was killed as a sorcerer by the chief of Korina, one of the Waima 
settlements, whose son Beata Ko was supposed to have slain by sorcery. 

28o The Roro-speaking Tribes 

between Tata Ko, a celebrated Walma sorcerer who had fled 
to Mou, and the natives of that village. Tata Ko is rather 
bigger than the average Mou man, he is in fact one of those 
Waima men who physically approximate to the larger and 
more muscular type of the Elema natives of the Papuan Gulf. 
When we arrived in the village, Tata Ko readily took a hand 
in preparing camp, and in this he was assisted by a number 
of other natives who showed him no particular deference, and, 
to all appearance, treated him as casually as they did one 
another, although, as I was assured, they believe that Tata 
Ko can kill them at will, while there is no reason to doubt that 
they endeavour to placate him by presents, when misfortune 
threatens. To Europeans Tata Ko strenuously denies that he 
is a sorcerer at all, and when at one time he was under arrest 
on a charge of sorcery he put the case to Captain Barton in ' 
this way : * If a man falls sick, his family come to me and ask 
me to make him well. If I don't do something for them they 
say " Tata Ko the sorcerer desires to kill our brother," and 
they are angry and will perhaps try to kill me. If I do give 
them something they insist on paying me well for it ; should I 
refuse to take their presents they would not understand it, 
and they would think I was trying to kill their friend, but 
when I do take what they give me, you arrest me on a charge 
of sorcery or blackmail.' 

Although much of the magic and sorcery of the Roro- 
speaking tribes has for its aim the production of death or 
illness, or the curing of illness, produced as it is believed by 
magic, there are many charms appropriate to the common 
occurrences of everyday life. Some of these are very generally 
known, though it was usually impossible to predicate whether 
a particular charm would be a matter of common knowledge, 
or known only to a select few. Thus, while practically every 
hunter knows and employs pig and wallaby charms, the num- 
ber of men who are recognized as able to prevent folk being 
bitten by crocodiles while fishing in the creeks is much 
smaller, although the process of muttering a charm and at the 
same time bringing together two valves of a bi-valve shell so 
that the crocodile may pass with a closed mouth, is not 
obviously more intricate than the technique of charming dogs 
for pig hunting. Men such as those who procure immunity 
from crocodiles for the members of a fishing party are certainly 
not considered as sorcerers, though their magical powers are 

Magic and Sorcery 281 

not doubted. Their magic seems to occupy a somewhat ill- 
defined position between the magical knowledge common to 
the majority of laymen and that possessed only by the 'depart- 
mental experts ' to be immediately described. A limited 
number of men in each tribe are held to have more or less 
effective control over the more important departments of 
native activity, but apparently no single individual exerts 
influence over more than a single department. The hunting 
ceremonies described on pp. 292 to 294 show how compli- 
cated may be the ceremonial over which these departmental 
experts preside, and although no detailed record was obtained 
of the procedure in other departments there is no reason to 
suppose that it is less intricate or less highly specialized. The 
knowledge demanded by the position of departmental expert 
was handed down by tradition, an expert usually training one 
of his own, or one of his sister's sons, and the knowledge so 
handed on, although in part consisting of magical processes 
and formulae, was doubtless also largely the result of years 
of observation and thought. 

As is only natural, the Roro-speaking tribes make the 
strongest distinction between (i) the magic that produces 
disease and death, which may be called sorcery, (2) the 
specialized and the beneficent magic of departmental experts 
and .(3) minor magic, a class of magical practices known to 
many of the laity, and consequently used by them in their 
daily life without special ceremony. It must be remembered 
that the practices included in the third category do not imply 
to the native mind that element of strangeness or disorder in 
the usual course of events, which Europeans invariably 
associate with the term magic. 


In the present section on the Roro-speaking tribes the 
term sorcery is limited to magical practices directed towards 
the production of disease and death, and to the efforts made 
to cure disease so produced. The attitude of sorcerers and 
lay natives towards this form of sorcery has already been 
defined so that here it is only necessary to consider the 
agents and materials used, and to cite such instances of 
sorcery as I was able to collect. The two media believed 
to be most frequently used by sorcerers to produce disease 

282 The RorO'Speaking Tribes 

and death are snakes and certain magical stones, but besides 
these the leaves and roots of a number of plants form part of 
every sorcerer s kit. 

The black snake {Pseudechis sp.), called by the natives 
aiirama, is the animal held to be commonly employed by 
sorcerers to kill folk who have offended them, but I have also 
heard of instances in which crocodiles were thought to have 
been sent by sorcerers to take a man, and one sorcerer is 
reputed to have admitted that In the case of a particular 
woman taken by a crocodile, the animal had obeyed his 

Although it was admitted that men might be bitten by 
snakes which were not sent by sorcerers, the greater number 
of cases of snake-bite, especially of such as are fatal, are 
attributed to the machinations of the sorcerer. Indeed, not 
only do sorcerers kill people by causing them to be bitten by 
snakes, but they are also able to obtain from the black snake a 
deadly stone which instantly kills any Individual touched with 
it, even the sorcerer who uses it Is said to take every pre- 
caution not to come into immediate contact with the stone. 
No native of the Roro district could or would state how a 
sorcerer obtains his snakes or his snake stone. It was indeed 
alleged that a sorcerer had no difficulty In obtaining as many 
snakes as he wished, and one informant volunteered the 
information that there is a certain plant known to sorcerers 
which, when rubbed upon the hands, enables a man to handle 
snakes without fear of being bitten. But no information 
further than the statement that such things existed could be 
obtained locally concerning the snake stone, and for the 
following account of how this stone is procured I am Indebted 
to Ahuia who heard the story some years ago when he visited 
the Roro district. 

A sorcerer who desires to obtain a snake stone fasts for 
two weeks, his food being limited to a few roasted bananas. 
During this time he stops in the bush by himself, and is 
especially careful to avoid the sight of women. Sooner or 
later he dreams of a black snake, the most poisonous snake of 
the district, which lives in a hole in a hollow tree, or in the 
banks of a creek. The sorcerer, who carries an instrument 
described as something like a fishing spear with about twenty 
closely set points, rolls a number of perineal bandages, i.e. 
long strips of native cloth, round his hands, arms and legs as 



a protection against the snake. The snake is worried until it 
moves, when as it glides away it exposes a small stone which 
is picked up by thrusting the 'spear' points against it, so that 
it is held between them. It is not touched, but is dropped 
into a length of bamboo and carried off by the sorcerer. The 
snake may follow the sorcerer in order to recover the stone, 
but such pursuit was said to be neither usual nor long con- 
tinued. The stone is kept carefully tied up in a jar or length 
of bamboo. To kill a man. It is sufficient to touch him with 

Fig. 29. Necklace found in sorcerer's bag. 

the snake stone, which is described as red and ' hot ' and 
about the size of a filbert. A snake stone Is rendered in- 
nocuous if it be dropped into a bowl of salt water which 
immediately hisses and bubbles as though boiling. When no 
more bubbles arise the stone is 'dead,' I.e. harmless. 

The sorcerer is alleged to keep his snakes in pots such as 
are commonly used for cooking, either in the bush or in a 
dark corner of his house. When a snake is to be induced to 
bite someone It is said to be treated as follows : A fragment 

284 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

of native cloth, or some object held to retain the body scent of 
the individual to be attacked, is placed in the pot with the 
snake ; the whole is covered up and the pot warmed. The 
snake, annoyed at the heat, strikes at the cloth, then the 
sorcerer takes the snake and, hiding himself in the bush by 
the side of the track, awaits the coming of his victim when he 
lets loose the snake. The latter, recognizing the body scent 
of the cloth in the heated pot, follows the man until he can 
bite him. A modification of this method is for the sorcerer to 
await an opportunity of touching his intended victim with 
a magic stone, previously smeared with some strongly smelling 
substance. In this case, too, the snake is confined with the 
odorous body until it can be liberated near the victim when, 
attracted by the scent, the snake seeks out the man touched 
with the odorous substance and bites him. 

The magical stones already referred to are mostly greyish 
water-worn pebbles, including water-worn fragments of vein 
quartz crystals. All these with many other objects, some of 
which have apparently no connection with magic, are carried in 
a netted bag of the kind called mahawa, in which a native 
usually carries certain of his most treasured trifles, as well as 
his lime gourd and other objects of daily use. How mis- 
cellaneous the contents of a sorcerer's mahawa may be, is 
shown by the following list of the contents of one seized by 
the Resident Magistrate of the Central Division. 

A necklace, consisting of alligator teeth and small packets of 

* medicine ' (figure 29). 
One stone lashed in a bamboo holder (figure 30 b\ 
A mass of netted stuff, apparently mourning gear. 
One small bamboo cylinder of ' mountain ' type, containing a number 

of bone needles (figure 30 cY- 
One carved hair comb, from the Papuan Gulf 
One vessel of unusual shape, made from a young coconut, partially 

covered with string netting. 
One partly made stone adze. 

Two pieces of crystalline quartz, apparently from a vein. 
The lower jaw of a large lizard ( Varanus sp.). The two halves of the 

jaw are held together by slivers of bamboo and twine. 
The remains of the claw of a rather large bird in a carved wooden 

case (figure 30 d). 
One bamboo cylinder which had contained red paint, a bone pointer 

was thrust through its stopper. 

^ The decoration of this cylinder shows that it was made in the mountainous 
district behind Mekeo. 



One smaller bamboo cylinder containing red paint and a bone needle. 

One slightly ornamented (scratched) bamboo cylinder. 

One small netted bag with various charms attached. 

One small netted bag containing seeds and fragments of wood 
(figure 31). This bag has attached to it a long netted loop 
which suggests that it was worn round the neck. A packet of 
'medicine' is attached to the loop on each side where it joins the 





Fig. 30. Objects found in sorcerer's bag. 

One large bamboo cylinder containing a powdery vegetable mass 

done up in red rag and a bone pointer. 
One piece of very dirty much-frayed cloth, in which was stuck a 

bone needle (figure 30 a). 
One bone needle, stained red, was loose in the inahawa. 

The bag of another sorcerer, also seized by the govern- 
ment, contained a number of fragments of broken arrows and 
a large number of cassowary claws. Although the bone 


The Roro-speaking Tribes 

needles in one rnahaiva suggest the existence of some form of 
* pointing ' magic, nothing could be ascertained concerning the 
existence of sorcery of this kind, nor, except in the case of the 
pasty mass of vegetable matter contained in a bamboo 
cylinder, was it possible even inferentially to ascertain the 

Fig. 31. Necklace found in sorcerer's bag. 

method in which any of the other objects in this mahawa were 

The nature and use of the vegetable mass seems clear 
from the following instance of sorcery, which came under 
Dr Strong's notice. A native of Kevori was charged with 
attempting to bewitch a man against whom he had a grudge ; 
a small bamboo cylinder containing some dried leaves was 

Sorcery 287 

produced in court. The accused admitted that the leaves 
were ' medicine,' which he had obtained from Oiyapu, to the 
west of Cape Possession, and that they were used in sorcery. 
He also admitted that he had collected some fragments of 
sugar cane which the prosecutor had chewed and spat out 
again. He had then placed the fragments of chewed sugar- 
cane with the leaves and clearly expected that the plaintiff 
would suffer as the result of this. In the same bamboo 
cylinder there were also a few fibres of a woman's petticoat. 
The accused refused to give any information concerning these, 
but the natives in the court agreed that they must have been 
put in the cylinder for the purpose of harming the woman from 
whose petticoat they were taken \ 

Some of the smaller stones carried in a sorcerer's mahawa, 
especially those consisting of fragments of water-worn vein 
quartz, are enclosed in roughly made tightly fitting nets; some- 
times two such nets, containing charm-stones, are joined 
together by a few centimetres of string, when the pebbles 
may be spoken of as male and female. It was not possible to 
obtain any information concerning the significance of this 
ascription of sex to the stones, nor how it affected their 
magical properties. Chalmers states that he obtained certain 
charm stones which were male and female, while others were 
father and child, however, he does not state how they were 
used. Speaking of a sorcerer whom he calls Veata he says : 
* The thing produced was a small net bag containing two large 
seeds ; attached to one was a very good, clear, and well-shaped 
crystal, and underneath small shells to represent noes and 
ayes ; that was the male, and the other unadorned was the 
female. They were never appealed to except for death, and 
were the cause of death to many. He now asked me if I felt 
fear. "Oh, dear no," I replied, "go on." He next produced 
a piece of bamboo ten inches long, in which there was a black 
stone of basalt, and another very small one. The one was 

^ An interesting case that illustrates the same form of belief recently occurred 
at Inawi, in the Mekeo district. Dr Strong writes : 'Two Inawi natives, both old 
men, quarrelled ; probably each was jealous of the other's influence in village 
affairs. One collected some faeces belonging to the other, and, placing them in an 
empty meat tin, took them to Mangemange, a Rarai man, who formerly had a great 
reputation as a sorcerer. He asked Mangemange to so treat the faeces that the 
man from whom they were derived would die. Mangemange, who is a village 
constable, replied that he now wore government clothes and would have nothing to 
do with the matter, and ordered one of the villagers to take the faeces to Inawi and 
to throw them into the river there. This was done....' 

288 The Roro-speaki7ig Tribes 

father and the other child ; these were for the seasons, and 
gave plenty or scarcity. In taking the large stone out it fell, 
which much disconcerted him, and he had again to go over his 
incantations. Next came a cup-like spongiole, obtained from 
the end of an aerial root of the pandanus. He took the lid 
off, and, wrapped in various kinds of weeds was another stone, 
which he handled very carefully. This was a partner with the 
last one, and together they produced sickness and death. The 
latter was the female. He then laid down a small parcel done 
up in native cloth very carefully, and whilst undoing it main- 
tained a very solemn demeanour, muttering all the time. From 
this another stone was produced, wrapped in weeds with two 
small stones, enclosed in a small net-bag, besides some other 
substance wrapped up in leaves. These had power to bring 
children, and were appealed to by the barren, only they were 
never to be seen by women. He then said that was all, but 
went away and in about an hour returned with a small parcel 
of crystals... and then in great secrecy he brought out a large 
piece of clear quartz in a small net-bag, and said that was 
what I had heard about, and no one must look upon it, but 
myself It was the "death stone" of which all the Maivians 
were afraid \' 

No layman would willingly touch or even look at the 
stones and other objects used by sorcerers, and any contact 
with them, even when not expected to produce death would be 
avoided as unlucky. Chalmers records that he bought some 
of the charm stones shown him by Veata, and also the effect 
on his native crew of the knowledge that they were in the 
whaleboat. ' It was noised all over Maiva that I had ob- 
tained possession of these things, and my inland friends begged 
me to have nothing more to do with them, or our boat would 
sink, or we should all die, or I might live, but Motu would 
suffer.... No one on board knew where I had them until after 
leaving Yule, when my stroke asked me, and I told him they 
were in a box under his feet. He resigned his oar, and on 
no account during the voyage would Jhe return to it. In 
crossing Redscar Bay we had dirty weather, and it was a very 
dark night. All this arose from Veata's things, so there was 
but one wish among the crew, that I would throw all over- 
board. They were terribly frightened, they begged for a reef 
to be taken in, but, anxious to get to Redscar Head by 

^ Pioneering in New Guinea^ London, 1887, p. 316. 


Skull prepared for sorcery 

Sorcery 289 

daylight, I would not consent. I heard them saying amonp-st 
themselves, "What folly to keep these things on board! He 
is not afraid; they will not affect him but what of us^?'" 
When, a few weeks later, Chalmers had an attack of fever it 
was generally considered that the charms bought of Veata 
were- responsible. 

The most careful inquiries failed to suggest that the 
sorcerers have any knowledge of vegetable or mineral poisons, 
and although jequirity {Abrus precatorius) is common in the 
district, no native appears to have any knowledge of its toxic 
properties, nor are children warned to avoid its brightly 
coloured seeds. 

But although there is no evidence of the use of poisons 
by the sorcerers of the Roro-speaking tribes, it is commonly 
believed that they have a knowledge of certain plants which 
when administered inevitably produce illness or death, and 
that these results would be brought about equally if these 
plants were administered by a layman. That is, these plants 
are poisons, using the term in its commonly accepted sense. 
One plant of this nature was said to produce delirium, and 
then idiocy, when administered in small and repeated doses, 
but to kill if a single large dose were given. The condition 
of a youth of Siria village, who is almost an idiot, is considered 
by some to be due to the action of this drug administered to 
him while on a visit to Bereina. 

There is a general belief that sorcerers endeavour to obtain 
access to freshly dead human bodies, portions of which they 
use as charms, and Father Guis suggests that this may have 
contributed to the practice of burial under the house of the 
deceased (Waima) or in the village street. But, except that a 
penis enveloped in clay is thought to be a potent love charm 
(cf. p. 302), I could hear of no part of the freshly dead body 
being actually used in sorcery. Skulls are, however, used and 
for this purpose may be prepared with great care, as in the 
instance shown on Plate XL. The skull was obtained at 
Port Moresby whither it had been sent (as I was told) as 
evidence of the sorcery practised in the Roro district, where 
the charm was made. It was unfortunately impossible to 
ascertain the precise circumstances attending its preparation. 
The skull is that of a young adult, probably a female and it 
must have lain exposed in the jungle for some time previous to 

^ Pio7teering in New Guinea^ London, 1887, pp. 31 7) 3^8- 
S. N. G. 19 

290 The Roro-spedking Tribes 

its use as a charm, since the roots of various plants can still 
be seen intertwined in the vd^xioviS fossae and occupying the 
interior of the cranium. 

As shown in the plate It Is fixed between two split 
cane uprights, connected by two cross-pieces. Above the last 
named is a slender framework of canehoops, covered with 
reddened B^^oussonetia bast. In this the skull is supported 
resting on the occipital bone, so that the base is presented 
vertically to the observer. 

In this aspect it is taken to resemble a face, the nose being 
represented by a straight piece of cane attached to the 
framework, and similarly covered with reddened bast. From 
its lower extremity projects a cane loop, through which is 
thrust a wooden skewer representing a shell nose ornament. 
Below this again, also suspended from the framework sup- 
porting the skull, is an ornament made of two boars' tusks 
fastened root to root by a string lashing. This corresponds to 
the fighting ornament (called at Port Moresby musikaka), 
which is held In the teeth during a battle. The eyes of this 
face are formed by the zygomatic fosses, and two thin cane 
loops on either side represent the ears. A strip of cane is 
lashed by either end to the zygomatic arches, and forms an 
arch over the maxillary portion of the face, the extremities 
extending back almost as far as the auditory meatus. To 
this arch is attached a dense fringe of human hair and white 
feathers ; tufts of the former are fastened at intervals to the 
framework supporting the skull, and cover the whole of the 
frontal and a portion of the parietal bones. Between the 
skull and the framework at the back (and not shown in the 
figure) is thrust a bunch of white cockatoo feathers. 

A number of charms are fastened here and there to the 
pieces of cane which support the skull ; most of these consist of 
bunches of herbs, but there are also, a fragment of dead coral, 
the mandible of a fish, and a waterworn pebble of vein quartz. 

As to the purpose of the charm, the natives asserted that 
it was used to procure the death of an enemy, though they 
could not explain the method adopted to bring about the 
desired result. Quartz pebbles, such as that attached to this 
charm, are themselves considered of deadly potency, and 
reference has already been made to Chalmers' description of 
one particular quartz crystal which was notorious throughout 
Waima for its death-dealing powers. 

Sorcery 291 

Although not only sorcerers, but also certain mythical 
Deings alluded to on page 303, are considered to produce 
disease and death, these two aetiological factors do not 
jsually tend to become confused. There is, however, a 
:omparatively small class of cases in which it is clear that 
:here exists an ill-defined but real belief in disease-producing 
spiritual agencies controlled by a sorcerer. Both Dr Strong 
md I have independently met with such cases and when, as 
n one instance, footprints were alleged to have been 
seen under the house of the supposed victim the evidence 
^'as considered to be undeniable. Dr Strong says : ' I 
lave met with this idea at Siria. It was supposed that a 
* spirit" of some kind had come to bewitch someone in the 
i^illage, and it seemed to have been a ''spirit" sent by or 
belonging to a sorcerer, but the natives themselves seemed to 
lave only a very confused idea of what they really did believe. 
K footprint was found under the house of the supposed victim 
ind this was considered good confirmatory evidence. Another 
nstance occurred at Waima where a member of the mission 
:ook me to see a woman w^ho believed she was the victim of 
1 sorcerer. Her account was that she went out one night and 
that she was taken by the hand, and in consequence she was 
now sick. It w^as impossible to understand who or what took 
tier by the hand. At times it seemed to have been a real 
man ; at other times only a sort of invisible ''spirit " belonging 
to a man, presumably the sorcerer. She was really ill and 
had been very constipated, her breath was offensive and her 
tongue foul. I advised a brisk purgative and moral suasion 
and later I heard that she had recovered.' 


There are hunting, fishing and planting experts, and it 
is noteworthy that there are specialists for coconuts and 
bananas, and perhaps for other crops. There are also rain 
experts, and formerly there were war experts, and in all 
these departments of knowledge, the art and practice is 
usually passed from father to son\ It appeared that experts 
never asked for presents, or demanded payment for their 

^ Much of what has been said of experts among the Roro-speaking tribes 
dually applies to their neighbours of Mekeo, thus one family, that of \.\itjda chief 
3f Inawae Ikoiko, a small weak clan, has for generations had power over the 
veather and is firmly believed to be able to produce rain at will. 

19 — 2 

292 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

services, but presents were made them on appropriate occasions 
by those who would profit by their efforts. 

Before arranging a big hunt the wallaby expert called 
itpiinahauna is consulted ; he fixes the date, some time before 
which the villagers, each one carrying his nets, meet in front 
of his house, and there pile their nets in a heap. A coconut 
is placed on the nets and the expert breaks this with a single 
blow of a wooden club. A fire has been burning on the 
verandah and the expert carries the cinders from this fire to 
the place where it is expected the hunting will begin. If, for 
any reason, the hunt is postponed the cinders are scattered as 
a sign that the hunt will not take place. For about a week 
the expert daily visits the place where the hunt is to begin, 
and here he burns certain roots supposed to have the power 
of attracting game\ 

Not only is cohabitation forbidden to the expert, but he 
may not eat food cooked by his wife or any other woman, 
he may not eat yams, nor the flesh of wallaby, nor pig, though 
he may eat the flesh of the kangaroo-rat and drink the milk 
of unripe coconuts which have been more or less roasted. 
The day before the hunt the expert, if he lives in a coastal 
village, washes himself in sea water, but inland fresh water 
may be used. At night a number of fires are lit, about 
a couple of miles from where the drive is to begin 
and here the hunters meet and thrust their spears into 
the ground. Each man brings with him his net which will 
form a portion of the wall of netting into which the game 
will be driven". The men form a rough semicircle facing the 
direction in which the game will be driven, and the nets are 
placed on the ground around the expert who stands with his 
spear thrust into the ground, rather in front of the hunters, 

1 Father Cochard, to whom I am indebted for the greater part of the account 
of the procedure of the wallaby expert given here, stated that at least one of these 
roots is smoked as a love charm, and used as a stimulant preliminary to warfare. 

2 The big communal hunts of this part of the country are carefully organized 
attempts to drive all the game scattered over a considerable area against a wall of 
netting which is perhaps a couple of hundred yards long. This stop net consists 
of a number of lengths of netting, the ends of which overlap each other. Rattles, 
made of the shells of the nuts of Pangiuin ediile, are tied to the nets, and to the 
stakes supporting them, and a number of men armed with spears and small portable 
pig nets mounted on cane hoops, hide in the bushes on each side of the stop net. 
When an animal is driven into the net the men who are hidden rush out and 
spear it ; usually this is not difficult, but it was pointed out that well-grown pigs 
would sometimes charge through the net or even disentangle themselves and turn 
back upon the spearmen, who carry the small pig-nets in order to stop a rush oi 
this kind. 

Hunting Magic 293 

none of whom may pass beyond him in the direction of the 
drive. The expert recites spells, consisting of appeals to 
male ancestors for as many as seven generations back, to 
prosper the hunting, and further he insists that many wallaby 
will be killed, and the hunters sing hunting songs called ori\ 
these songs consist largely of excuses for their going hunting, 
thus they may say that owing to their wives having recently 
born children they require wallaby to eat, as yams are not 
sufficiently nourishing. The expert chews areca nut during 
the whole ceremony, and holds in his hand a portion of the 
leafy axis of a species of dracaena, called topi, on which he 
spits after every invocation. After a short time he puts on a 
specially prepared perineal band (itaduri) with a tail about 
four metres long, which has been hanging on his spear handle 
during his invocations. Then the men stand up in two 
parallel rows facing each other at right angles to the direction 
of the beat, each man holding his net, the greater part of the 
weight of which is supported on the shoulder. The expert 
walks down the clear space between the two rows and strikes 
each net with his branch of topi, then, returning to the starting 
point, he imitates a wallaby by hopping on all fours down the 
space between the rows. The men he passes first pretend to 
try to catch him with their hands but are not successful, and 
it is not until he has reached the far end of the row that he is 
caught. He is immediately liberated and leads the hunters to 
the place where they will begin to beat. The expert, imitating 
the gait of a wallaby, goes quietly aside, and at the same 
time some of the hunters move quickly and silently away, in 
order to put up their nets. The expert, who is said to be 
able to imitate the cries of wallaby, is supposed to call them 
together and urge them in such a direction that they will be 
driven easily into the nets. On his return to the beaters he 
announces loudly that all is ready and that many wallaby will 
be caught for their ancestors will help them. 

Father Cochard, speaking of the hunting customs of Mou 
village, informed me that the expert's spear was left where it had 
been thrust into the ground at the beginning of the ceremony, 
and that a few areca nuts were left near it for Oa Rove. 

Dr Strong gives the following additional information con- 
cerning the charms employed preliminary to wallaby hunting : 
' Wallaby '' medicine " consists of leaves, the barks of different 
trees and white stones. For a month before the hunt is due 

294 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

to take place, the expert avoids intercourse with his wife ; he 
also makes for himself a new perineal bandage and adds to his 
wallaby "medicine" some of the grass or leaves from the thatch 
of the marea. He then burns off a certain quantity of grass 
and scatters the wallaby " medicine " over the bare area, calls 
out a wallaby name '' avia aku'' and says ''All you wallaby, fat 
ones, thin ones, big ones, small ones, male and female, young 
and old, come here ! This is your place ! " Then he returns to 
his house, but next morning comes back and sees the tracks 
made by the wallaby during the night. In two or three days 
he comes back again. By this time the young grass will 
have sprung up and the wallaby will have gathered to eat it. 
More medicine is now scattered about including the heads 
of wallaby and turtle. He buries the skull of a wallaby and 
a white " wallaby stone," and once more summons the wallaby 
to come. " Fat ones, thin ones, big ones, small ones," etc. 
The hunt takes place in a few days, nets are put up into 
which the wallaby are driven, but before the hunt begins the 
expert either goes to sleep or pretends to go to sleep in the 
cleared area, being covered all over in "native cloth" made 
from the sheath of the spathe of the coconut palm. After a 
short time the hunters rouse him up and ask where are the 
wallaby.' Dr Strong does not say whether the expert 
answers this question or whether he is supposed to have seen 
the animals to be hunted during his sleep ; but continues : 
' He eats areca nut and smokes, and many wallaby are hunted 
and killed.' 

Dr Strong was told that presents of food were made to 
the fish expert before the larger and more important com- 
munal fishings were held. This food is eaten by the expert 
and his relatives, and ' the refuse put into the creek where 
the fishing is to take place.' The expert and his relatives 
seemed to eat little after this present of food until the fishing 
began, which was not until the expert gave the word, and 
invited everyone to participate in the proceedings which he 

In the case of banana experts, food is presented to them 
when the gardens are made, and later when the young banana 
suckers are planted out, some of these are given to the expert. 
Dr Strong points out that this is considered specially good 
policy, since the expert will certainly see that the conditions 
are favourable to the growth of his own bananas, and naturally 

Paiha Magic 295 

the bananas belonging to other people will be subjected to the 
same conditions. 

Dr Strong writes that if the rain expert Is lazy, and stays 
much in his house wrapped in his blanket, rain is likely to 
come ; on the other hand by getting up and walking about 
the village he is able to stop rain. He also has certain 
charm stones which are suspended by strings over vessels 
full of water ; when rain is required the stones are let down 
so as to touch the surface of the water, when enough rain has 
fallen, the stones are drawn up again. Bats are said to 
frequent the house of the rain expert, and should he build 
a new house these animals forsake the old house and fly to 
the new one of their own accord. In Waima there are said to 
be three rain experts, two of whom live at Abiara settlement, 
and one at Oa Ovia. 

Although the paiha chiefs, alluded to on page 217, have 
their own clubhouses and, in the old days, were seemingly 
more important than hunting, fishing, or planting experts, there 
is no doubt that in the matter of their paiha functions they 
were not looked upon as chiefs in the ordinary sense of the 
word but as departmental experts, whose business it was to 
ensure success in war by the aid of their magical powers. 
There was everywhere the greatest unwillingness to discuss 
paiha matters, and at Waima only was it possible to obtain 
any definite information concerning paiha chiefs, so that the 
following account is certainly Incomplete, though there is 
every reason to believe it is accurate as far as it goes, as the 
greater part of it has been separately verified by Dr Strong 
and myself. Waima possesses t^o paiha chiefs, namely Rohi 
Aihl, the ovia itsipana of Robalarobaia settlement of Arabure 
itsubu, and Naime Miria, the ovia awarina of Arabu Kupunu 
settlement of Ereere itstibu. Each paiha expert has a 7narea 
of his own which is called a paiha inarea. As already 
mentioned, Arabure and Ereere are two of the four original 
Waima itsubit ; the remaining two original itsubu, Hauramiri 
and Abiara, were said not to have had paiha experts and so 
to have always lacked paiha inarea, their members visiting 
Nenehi Tuputupu, the Arthur & paiha marea or Bobo Rabi the 
^v'6&r& paiha viarea for 2\\ paiha ceremonies. At the present 
day the marea of Naime Miria, the paiha expert of Ereere 
itsubu, Is represented only by the left side of Bobo Rabi. 
Arabu Kupunu settlement, in which Boborabi stands, has 

296 The Rorospeaking Tribes 

also a ' peace ' marea or ovia inaj^ea of which, one, Baki Oa is 
ovia itsipa^ia, and Baki Oa is the ovia ' chief of the right side ' 
of xh.^ paiha 7narea Bobo Rabi, though admittedly he is in no 
sense ?ipaika expert. 

Dr Strong found that Rohi Aihi, the Arabure paiha 
expert, took precedence of Naime Miria of Ereere itsubu in 
paiha matters and that both chiefs had official titles which 
applied only to their paiha functions. Rohi Aihi was called 
autai pakana, i.e. 'the gr^dX autai,' Naime Mir'm au^ai irina, 
doubtless a contraction of autai awarina, 'the autai of the 
left' ; autai was stated to be the name of a bark which, when 
eaten, makes people 'talk plenty,' and the chewing of this 
bark by the paiha chiefs appears to have been one of the 
necessary preliminaries to a fight. When Waima decided 
to attack some other community their line of battle was 
led by the autai pakana and the autai irina, who were 
always men. Behind them walked two paiha women, who 
were related to the paiha chiefs, and who it was said were 
not afraid because they were 'paiha! Behind these came 
all the ovia awarina 'war chiefs' (cf. page 217) who were 
followed by the tuari, i.e. the bulk of the war party. The 
autai pakana would lead the attack on the right side of the 
van, while the station of the autai irina was on the left. 
The former was supposed to make the actual frontal attack, 
the autai irina apparently being in command of a reserve 
who joined in the main attack at a favourable moment and 
made flank attacks, or endeavoured to cut off their opponents' 
retreat. The presence of the two paiha women, who were 
always near relatives of the autai pakana and autai irina 
respectively, was said to be necessary, and these women were 
in fact an essential part of a war party. It was said that 
the women ' danced ' as they went to the fight and that they 
did not themselves take any part in the fighting, but that if 
they ran away the fighting men would follow them\ 

The names of the two paiha women are Aiva Ikupu and 

Poni Biri. Aiva Ikupu is attached to Rohi Aihi the autai 

pakana, and Poni Biri to Naime Miria, the autai irina. 

I am indebted to the Rev. Father Joindreau for important 

information concerning the blood relationship of each of the 

paiha women to the paiha chief, with whom she is officially 

connected. This relationship goes far back, for the maternal 

^ Presumably \.\iQ paiha quality of these women protected them from attack. 

Paiha Marea 297 

grandfather of Rohl Aihi (the autai pakand) and the great 
grandmother (on the father's side) of Aiva Ikupu, were 
brother and sister, their common ancestor being one Enehe 
Aitsibara who lived five generations ago. As regards Poni 
Biri and Naime Miria (the autai irina) the father of the 
former was brother to the paternal grandfather of Naime 
Miria, their common ancestor being Rao Ikupu. Naime 
Miria, who, it must be remembered, is ovia awarina of Arabu 
Kupunu settlement as well as autai irina, is not related to 
Baki Oa, the ovia itsipana of Arabu Kupunu, whose marea is 
the right half of the building, the left half of which is 
Bobo Rabi, representing the 7narea of th^ paika chief. Poni 
Biri, the paiha woman, is however distantly related to Baki 
Oa, who is a grandson of one of her maternal uncles. 

The paiha chiefs medicined their men before the attack 
was made, this being done with a portion of the leafy axis of 
the plant called topi, in the way already described on 
page 293, as a preliminary to hunting. Th^ paiha chiefs also 
carry with them into battle various charms, such as leaves, 
fragments of the bark of certain trees, and pieces of broken 

Dr Strong was told that formerly presents were made to 
the paiha chiefs in order to induce them to take up a private 
quarrel, and make it a communal affair ; for instance, if a 
Kevori man killed a native of Waima, the relatives of the 
latter made presents to their two paiha chiefs. 

Arms were kept in the paiha marea which, like the marea 
of the war chiefs, might fairly be called arsenals, and it was in 
t\i^ paiha marea that warriors met before going to battle, and 
that the feast made after the return of the warriors from 
successful fighting took place. Here, too, the homicides 
underwent a ceremonial seclusion while being purified from 
the taint of blood, which was supposed to cling to them. 
This seclusion was not, however, very strict, for during the 
hours of daylight the warriors would paint and adorn them- 
selves, and assemble outside the marea and dance. It was, 
however, necessary that they should sleep in the marea and 
not go out at night ; further, they should eat little and avoid 
handling their food, which they must pick up on a bone fork, 
the handle of which was wrapped in a banana leaf. It was 
not clear how long this partial seclusion lasted but after a 
certain time, perhaps when the food taboo was to be removed, 

298 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

the homicides would deck and paint themselves, and stand 
drumming on the ground in front of the marea, while the 
paiha chief addressed them from its platform and then filling 
his mouth with water spurted this over them. It was 
apparently shortly after this, that the homicides went to the 
sea-shore, where they all entered the water each accompanied 
by two older warriors, who had killed their man. These 
warriors rubbed the paint off the younger homicide with the 
back of their hands. After this the party returned to the 
marea where the young homicides still slept for a period 
which perhaps lasted a month. During this time they were 
allowed to eat as much food as they liked, and might pick it 
up with their bare hands. At the end of this period they 
were freshly painted and taken to the sea-shore where the 
older warriors again rubbed the paint with the backs of their 
hands from the bodies of their young comrades. The final 
stage of the seclusion ceremonial was that at which warriors 
who had not before killed a man, assumed the beautiful 
ornament made of fretted turtle shell called kotyu, which only 
homicides were allowed to wear displayed in their headdress 
in a particular manner. The koiyu was tied to the headdress 
of each warrior in xh^ paiha ma7^ea by \h& paiha chief, after a 
feast had been held. Then came a dance, and on the same 
night, a pretence was made of chasing the newly decorated 
homicides about the village. Embers were thrown at them 
and firebrands waved towards them, in order, it would appear, 
to drive away the spirits of the hostile dead which, as far as 
I could understand, appeared in some sense to be regarded as 
immanent in the headgear of the homicide or specially con- 
nected with this. 

Warriors, when returning from a successful campaign, 
would throw their spears at the roof and sides of both the 
paiha and war marea which alike appear to have been used 
as sleeping places for young men. It was said that clan dada 
were not exhibited upon paiha marea, but Dr Strong was told 
that they formerly had a distinguishing mark in the shape of 
certain gaps left in the roof, and that these gaps were filled 
up when spears were thrown at them by successful warriors. 

Plate XLI 

Kaivakuku masks at Hisiu 


Kaivakuku 299 


These are men who alone have the power of pronouncing 
the most dreaded, and consequently the most rigorously- 
observed, form of taboo on vegetable food. They are in fact 
taboo experts. Among the Roro-speaking tribes they exist 
only at Waima, Hisiu, and perhaps at Kevori, and there is 
not the slightest doubt that the custom has been introduced 
from the Elema tribe of the Papuan Gulf\ The huge masks 
covering the whole of the body in which the kaivakiiktt 
officiate are shown in Plate XLI, which were taken at Hisiu, 
by Captain Barton, who found that the masks were kept in 
a hut roughly put together but specially erected for this 
purpose. I have been told that the masks are also kept in 
the closed inner chamber of the marea, and in 1898 I saw 
that portion of the mask which is made of bark cloth, separated 
from the body-covering and hanging on the verandah of 
a marea over the death-chair aiyaiyai of a recently dead chief, 
though I cannot say whether the dead man was a chief ' of the 
right ' or 'of the left.' The mask was said to have belonged 
to the dead man, so that at Waima at least it would appear 
that the kaivakuku are, or may be, chiefs. 

Although the kaivakitku were taken seriously at Waima, 
they were not, as far as could be ascertained, as much dreaded 
as among the Elema tribes. It seemed that among the latter 
the taboo they proclaimed was never infringed, whereas at 
Waima Dr Strong found that there was a recognized form of 
punishment for men caught breaking the taboo. The kaiva- 
kuku men would formally complain to the ovia itsipana of the 
local group to which the culprit belonged, and then raid his 
possessions, killing his pigs and dogs, and only desisting when 
a present was made to them. The kaivakuku men would 
promenade the village in the afternoon, taking care to disguise 
their gait, and walk on the side of their feet, so that they might 
not be recognized. At night they would swing bull-roarers. 
Neither among the Elema tribes nor at Waima could the 
kaivakuku decide to proclaim a taboo, this rested with the 
chiefs and old men, and the functions of the kaivakuku were 

^ It appeared, however, that the Waima folk considered the custom their own, 
though Dr Strong writes that Inawi, the one village of Mekeo who have kaivakuku, 
admit that they acquired the custom from the Gulf. Other examples of Gulf 
influence are given on pp. 259 and 314. 

300 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

limited to translating into action the decision made and of 
punishing transgressors. The office is hereditary, but at the 
present time the custom is decaying in Waima. Dr Strong 
was told in 1906 that there were but five kaivakuku in Waima, 
whereas formerly there were twenty. I am indebted to Mr A. 
McAlpine of Port Moresby for an account of the kaivakuku 
of the Elema tribes among whom the name for these men 
and the masks they wear is haiHhu, Only garden produce 
is tabooed by kariku, and any other taboo imposed by the 
owner is not treated with anything like the amount of respect 
that a harihu taboo commands. This taboo is imposed by 
the hariku after planting and fencing, and when the erecting 
of trellises for the yam vines is complete, and takes the form 
of forbidding anyone to dig or remove anything from the 
garden until such time as the harihu decide that the crop is 
ripe for gathering. They decide this by occasionally digging 
up a plant, and when the crop is fit to eat, they inform the 
chief, and he announces from the verandah of the clubhouse 
that the people may go and gather the food. When a lot of 
food has been brought in, a feast is prepared, in which the 
whole village join, the harihu, who remain in the clubhouse 
while the feasting lasts, alone holding aloof. 

In the case of coconuts, the ha7dhu give warning of their 
intention to impose a taboo, by planting a ripe nut, setting 
it up on its end in the usual manner. A period of grace 
from the time of planting the nut until the appearance of 
the first shoot is allowed, and during this time nuts may be 
collected by their owners. The taboo lasts until the harihu 
remove it. The sign that a garden is tabooed is a small 
stone of a special shape placed at the entrance to the garden. 
It has on it certain 'private marks' of the harihu, to tamper 
with which would render the offender liable to instant death 
at the hands of the vada of the harihu. The word vada 
occurs in Mr Mc Alpine's manuscript, but although its employ- 
ment suggests that the punishment for tampering with the 
taboo sign is immediate and automatic, and in some way due 
to the spiritual powers of the harihu, this Motu word clearly 
has not on the present occasion the special significance 
discussed on pages 187 and 188. 

Each Gulf village has its own harihu, the office descend- 
ing from father to son or, in the event of a man not having 
male issue, to his brother's or sister's children. Only the men 

Minor Magic 301 

of the tribe know that the harihu are human beings, the 
women are taught that they are spirits from the bush, and 
they and the uninitiated youths firmly beHeve this, and are 
extremely afraid of them. Any woman daring to come near 
a harihu would be killed, and any children, whose curiosity 
gets the better of them so far as to approach a harihu, are 
mercilessly beaten. When the harihu make their appearance, 
they always come in from the bush side of the village, and 
for some time previously they live in a shelter erected in the 
scrub near by, where they are visited from time to time by 
a few old men. It is part of the initiates' instruction, while 
secluded in the eravo (clubhouse), to be told all about the 
harihu, but such is the terror they inspire in the uninitiated, 
that (as Mr McAlpine's informants told him) it was often 
extremely difficult to persuade a novice to let a harihu come 
near him in the eravo. 

The mask of each harihu is said to differ from all others, 
and the clan badge of the owner is often worked on it, though 
it is not perhaps absolutely necessary that this should be so\ 
Further, Mr McAlpine was told that after each occasion the 
masks were burnt, and that, although all the Elema villages 
have harihu, they never appear simultaneously in neighbouring 


There was no opportunity of systematically studying the 
minor magic of the people, but dogs were medicined before 
hunting in much the same way as that in use among the 
Koita, described on page 177. Further, Dr Strong met with 
the following hunting custom, which he learnt officially in 
his position of magistrate. In order that a dog should be 
successful in hunting wallaby, it is necessary for its owner to 
steal some food and give it to the dog. If the man from whom 
the food is stolen is angry at the theft, his rage is supposed 
to influence the dog, and make it a keen and fierce hunting dog. 

The taboos imposed on youths while making their drums, 
given on page 258, are typical examples of the common forms 
of sympathetic magic prevailing in the district. 

^ If this is to be taken literally it would seem to imply that each local group 
or itsubu (Waima) has but one kaivakuku, and from this standpoint it is 
interesting that Dr Strong was told that there were formerly twenty kah'akuku in 
Wamia, twenty being about the number of the Waima settlements, most of which, 
as it has been seen, are local groups. 

302 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

A number of love charms are well known at Siria and are 
apparently frequently employed. One of these is made by 
mixing a small quantity of dried umbilical cord, with tobacco 
that the chosen girl will smoke, or with lime that she will use 
when chewing areca nut, or with a little of the dried and 
powdered skull of a shark. 

Another love charm is an excellent example of imitative 
magic. The would-be lover hides in the bush, in such a 
position that he commands a view of the track along which he 
expects the girl to pass. He has with him a germinating 
coconut, and the spine of a sting ray. The young shoot is 
broken off flush with the husk, and, when the boy sees the 
girl approaching, he slowly thrusts the spine of the ray into 
the eve of the coconut, and moves it backwards and forwards 
in the soft spongy substance of the nut. This was said to be a 
particularly efficacious but not widely known love charm, and 
probably had been recently introduced. 

It has already been mentioned that sorcerers are supposed 
to use portions of the human body for magical purposes ; 
a human penis enveloped in clay, in which condition the 
sorcerers were said to keep it, was believed to be a potent 
love charm, and a youth would borrow this from a sorcerer 
and wear it round his neck so that the girl whom he wished 
to influence might see it as he spoke to her. 




The majority of the spiritual beings, in which the Roro- 
speaking tribes beHeve, resemble In their attributes those 
of the Kolta already described. It Is, however, probable 
that the beliefs of Individuals not nominally Christian, or 
only partly under the Influence of the Sacred Heart Mission, 
may have already been modified to some extent by Mission 
Influence. Thus, although It was clear that death and all 
that had to do with It partook of the physical quality of 
' cold,' yet an ' evil spirit like fire ' who marshalls the spirits 
of the dead will be presently alluded to, and although there 
is no direct evidence of Christian influence this belief indi- 
cates the necessity for caution. It does not, however, seem 
necessary to exercise this quality In the case of the tale of 
Oa Rove Maral, a spiritual being of greater power than others 
known to the Roro-speaking tribes, for a story published by 
Romilly^ in 1889, although slightly more exuberant than the 
version collected in 1904, is obviously the same legend, the 
main features of both being identical. 

There is a being or group of beings called paipai which 
afflicts people with sickness and other bodily hurts, and was 
considered to be the cause of most illnesses. Leucoderma, 
rheumatoid arthritis, and severe ulceration of the face were 
alike attributed X.o paipai, who seem to be simply malevolent, 
although in legends connected with the marea (p. 233) Paipai 
appears as a remote shape-changing ancestor. Dr Strong 
was told that paipai, who in this instance were thought of 
in the plural and as constituting a species, are specially 

^ From My Verandah in New Guinea, London, 1888, pp. 143 et seq. 

304 The RorO'Speakmg Tribes 

common in damp, fertile ground near springs, where some 
exist as snakes, and others in more or less human form. 

Again, although the word beriwa was sometimes used to 
signify the spirits of the dead, all beriwa were not of this 
nature, some were malicious agencies who had never been 
human, while the same word is used for the bull-roarer\ 

The agency Boubou is so closely connected with the dead, 
that his functions are given on page 310, in connection with 


The characteristics and attributes of Oa Rove Marai will 
best be understood by the legends concerning him set out in 
this chapter, but it may be mentioned that he differs from 
other spiritual agencies known to the Roro-speaking tribes in 
several respects, especially in the fact, explicitly stated, that Oa 
Rove would never grow feeble or cease to exist. Concerning 
other spiritual beings, this was at most implied, or more 
commonly the point was ignored, and when questions were 
asked it was found that no definite views were held. The 
parentage of Oa Rove was unknown ; when apparently a boy 
of no experience he had power over hunted animals and made 
his fellows jealous by the number of wallaby that were caught 
in his net. According to one account a number of areca nuts 
are left in the bush for Oa Rove before the big communal hunts, 
the magical preliminaries to which are described in the chapter 
on Magic and Sorcery. 

Oa Rove could change his shape as he wished, and, in 
revenge for unfair treatment, sent mosquitoes, gave men 
weapons and taught them how to kill each other. The word 
rove corresponds to the Motu kelaga, and like it has some- 
thing of the sense of * sacred,' 'set apart,' 'esoteric,' and men 
who become rove must submit to many restrictions, while 
objects to which this term is applied receive special treatment 
or care in handling. Oa is a proper name which occurs 
frequently among all the Roro-speaking tribes. 

The legend of Oa Rove Marai relates that an old widow 
living near Arabure who had been gathering wood for fuel 
was returning to her house with her bag full, when she heard 

* Perhaps in this sense the term has been borrowed from the people living in 
the Nara district, immediately to the east of the Roro-speaking tribes, for these folk 
who swing the bull-roarer to make their crops grow, also call it beriwa. 

Oa Rove 


a cry like the squeak of a bat or a rat, which seemed to come 
from the bag, in which, however, she could find nothing to 
account for the sound. When she got back to her house she 
heard the cry again, but could not determine whence it came. 
During the night while she was asleep a child came to her and 
said : ' I am not a rat, as you thought, when I chickered in 
your bag. I am Oa Rove Marai and you must treat me as 
your child.' But the woman grumbled : ' I am old and a 
widow ; who will hunt and fish for you ? ' The child said : 
' I will see to that.' At daybreak she found the child in her 
hut and soon after he started for Arabure on the Ufafa River, 
and spread his nets and caught many wallaby and cassowary. 
At this the men of Arabure got angry, holding that they were 
shamed in that a child caught more than they, and so they 
took his game from him. Oa Rove returned to his adopted 
mother with only one small wallaby ; he did not tell her of the 
way he had been treated but simply said : ' I have only brought 
this small wallaby.' Then he blew on it and immediately 
a number of big wallaby lay dead in the hut, and on these he 
and the old woman feasted. 

One day Oa Rove went to the mouth of the river and saw 
many fish there. Early next morning he said to his mother : 
* While the Arabure men are all away hunting wallaby, I will 
go fishing.' His mother asked him where he was going to 
fish, but he only said : ' I have seen many fish and I will catch 
them.' He went to Arabure where he found a canoe and, 
taking with him his mother and all the better looking women, 
leaving only the older women in the village, he started up- 
stream. Oa Rove caused fish to gather so thickly round the 
canoe that the women caught them with their hands, scooping 
them into their coconut leaf baskets till they bulged with them. 
They continued to catch fish till the evening, when the canoe 
was so overladen as to be dangerously low in the water. 
When the women saw that the night was coming on they 
thought of their men who would be waiting impatiently for 
them to come and cook their wallaby, and begged Oa Rove 
to take them back to the village, but he said : ' Wait till the 
water is higher, it is too low now.' Soon the women said : 
' We are hungry ; where are we to find vegetables and wood }' 
Then Oa Rove made yams and banana leaves in which to 
wrap the fish and lighted fires at which to cook them. When 
the food was done they asked him for areca nuts and these 

S. N. G. 20 

3o6 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

also he gave them. After much talking and jesting all the 
women including the mother of Oa Rove went to sleep on the 
canoe, for it was late and quite dark. While the women were 
asleep Oa Rove carried them and the canoe up and up towards 
the sky, but stopped on the top of a high mountain. There 
one woman woke up and passed water, which falling on the 
earth gave rise to crotons in the world below. Then this 
woman woke the others, and they too passed water, and so 
gave rise to more crotons. The mother of Oa Rove woke 
last of all and immediately began to abuse her adopted son 
saying : ' Why have you stolen these women '^. The men of 
the village will be angry.' But Oa Rove said : * The Arabure 
men stole my pig and wallaby : I am angry with them, so 
I have taken their wives.' Then Oa Rove let the women fall, 
and as they fell they became rocks, and hills, and mountains. 

When the people of Arabure saw that their women did 
not come back to them, they sought Oa Rove everywhere, 
and he answered to their cries : * If you had not stolen my 
game and my fish, I should not have revenged myself by 
taking your women, if you had behaved well to me I would 
have made you rich in yams and bananas, and in areca nuts, 
but as you treated me badly I have taken your women ; this 
is my revenge.' Then Oa Rove called together all the 
inhabitants of the Roro and Mekeo villages in the plain of the 
St Joseph River, and told them that the Arabure people had 
treated him badly, but that if they had treated him well, every- 
one would have been happy and always have had plenty of food. 
Then he gave them spears and black palm-wood clubs, and 
he sent battle, theft, and adultery among them, and sorcerers 
who kill people. Thus death came to these villages. 

But * Oa Rove still lives, our ancestors have told us so.' 
In the variant given by Romilly, a child was born long ago, 
who often changed his skin after the manner of snakes, but 
nevertheless, grew no bigger, yet he was so wise that his tribe 
would leave him in sole charge of their village and women, 
while they were away hunting. On one such occasion he lit 
a firestick and wandered into the bush, travelling on and on 
until he came to what was to him a new country when, feeling 
exhausted, he crawled into a hollow log, and went to sleep, | 
leaving his firestick on the ground by the side of the log. | 
When he awoke he heard women's voices speaking in a strange [ 
dialect and, after a time, he understood that they were I 

Oa Rove 


gathering firewood. One of the women picked up the log in 
which he was hidden, and Oa Rove made himself known to 
her and persuaded her to adopt him. As he grew up, he took 
no part either in hunting or fishing, but often told his adopted 
mother that her folk knew little about either, and that he 
could show them how to do both properly. At length he 
went fishing with the other men and all the fish taken were 
caught in his net. In the same way when he joined a hunting 
party, pig and wallaby were caught only in his net. On each 
occasion, the men of the village beat him, and took away the 
greater part of his fish or game, barely leaving him enough to 
eat. He did not accompany the other men of the tribe when 
they next went hunting, but told his mother to gather together 
all the girls and women of the village and come fishing with 
him. No fish were caught, so after a time Oa Rove secretly 
changed himself into a big fish which no one was able to hold. 
He next annoyed the women by assuming the shape of a 
wallaby which none of them could kill. After this he quietly 
reassumed his own shape, and the party paddled up-stream to 
near the place where he had been picked up in the log of fire- 
wood. There he picked some twigs of a small shrub, pounded 
them, and threw them into the river, with the result that so 
many fish died, that they could not be collected before dark, and 
the whole of the party were obliged to sleep there. At day- 
light the women woke and felt very cold ; they looked around, 
heard a great noise, and noticed that the ground was rising, 
and presently they recognized their village far below them. 
They threatened the boy, but he only laughed at them, saying 
they could not hurt him as he was now in his own place, and 
that he had done this because their foolish husbands would 
not believe him, and had treated him badly. 

The rest of the story relates how, when the injured 
husbands came to get their wives back, they found Oa Rove 
sitting on an inaccessible rock from which he threw into their 
midst a spear, a bow and arrow, and a club successively, 
killing a man each time. Finally he threw them a stone with 
which people could be killed without external marks of violence. 
He told the men they were to copy the weapons he had 
thrown among them and instructed them in the use of each, so 
that they might be able to kill each other easily, and he taught 
them how to use the charm stone. Oa Rove next threw 
a dead body into their midst, and told them that had they 


3o8 The Roro-speaking Tribes 

caught it in their arms, and so prevented it from touching 
the ground, the weapons he had previously given them would 
have been useless for they would have been immortal, as 
he was. 

There are many variants of the latter part of the story. 
According to one version the women, who appeared to fall to 
earth, did not really fall, for their spirits stayed with Oa Rove. 
Before he flung their bodies down he told the people on earth 
to stand in couples, clasping each others hands, so as to catch 
and hold from earth what he would throw to them. But the 
men were not sufficiently strong and when the bodies of 
women wrapped up like corpses fell from the skies, the people 
could not hold them up, their hands separated, so that the 
bodies fell to the ground and from them arose a bad smell, 
flies and mosquitoes. Then Oa Rove said : * If you had been 
strong and done as I told you, you would not have died. 
Now you will perish and your bodies will rot like those of 
the women at your feet.' 

In another story Oa Rove presented the tribes with 
a closed bamboo, with injunctions to put it in water or fire as 
they pleased : something was heard buzzing inside the tube 
and the tribesmen elected to open it in water, with the result 
that the first mosquitoes appeared and mosquitoes still multiply 
in water. 

Dr Strong, who inquired independently concerning Oa 
Rove, writes : * I obtained the legend with some modification 
and of course with some of the incidents in your account left 
out. I will only note modifications and additions.' 

' Oa Rove was found in a house in the evening when the 
woman on whom he forced himself returned from getting 
water. Oa Rove blew on the small wallaby and it became 
one big one. Oa Rove went fishing in the Ethel or Ufafa 
river, he took his canoe to a place near Eboa and there made 
the hill appear on which the Eboa folk expose their dead to 
the present day. All the inhabitants of all the villages of the 
Papuasian world, especially the people of Toaripi and the 
Motu, went to this hill to try to get back their women from 
Oa Rove, who gave to each tribe the special weapon in the 
use of which it excels, viz. spears and wooden clubs to the 
Roro-speaking tribes, and bows and arrows to the people of 
the Papuan Gulf He also taught or gave the Mekeo tribes 
their sorcery which kills people. I could not hear of Oa 

Eschatology 309 

Rove ascending any hill but this one, but when he threw 
the women to their husbands, he apparently turned them into 
other hills.' 


Dr Haddon, on the authority of Father Cochard, gives 
the following examples of belief in omens\ 

' When the hauba bird comes into a village and cries in 
the night, someone will die. If a kangaroo hops into a 
village when the men are out hunting, someone will die.' 
Dr Haddon adds that probably the kangaroo ' was the spirit 
of the dead hunter,' pointing out that this interpretation is 
borne out by the belief that ' if men are voyaging and a gale 
of wind suddenly springs up, the mariners know that someone 
has died, as the gust of wind is the passage of the spirit.' 
It is necessary to keep a fire alight in the house of each of 
the ' captains ' of the au nohi (Motu lakatoi) during the whole 
of the time that the craft is away on a sago-trading expedition 
to the Gulf. Should this fire go out ill luck might befall the 
au nohi. 

It is of evil omen to dream of being bewitched by a 
sorcerer, and it is said that men have sickened and died after 
such dreams. 

Slight bodily aches may be regarded as omens, thus if the 
right shoulder aches, good news may be expected, but if the 
left shoulder, bad news, or even news of the death of friends 
may be expected. 


It appears that auba, which etymologically seems to be 
equivalent to the Motu lauma, does not signify the spirit, 
shade or ghost of a dead man, but rather the likeness or 
reflection of a man, and thus corresponds to the Motu 
laulau. The usual term for the spirit or ghost of a dead man 
seems to be tsirania or tsirava, though the term beidwa is also 
sometimes used. The term tsirava is also used to express 
the vital forces or essence within an individual precisely as 
the Koita use the term sua (pp. 189 and 190). Oriorena 
is the term for a shadow and it was stated the tsirama are 
sometimes seen as shadows. 

^ Headhunters, Blacky White and Brown ^ p. 259. 

3 ID The RorO'Speaking Tribes 

Tsirama are considered to frequent the villages of their 
people ; if they . deserted the village, the inhabitants would 
have no luck in anything, and it was stated that if the tsirama 
are suspected of having left a village, measures are taken 
to brincr them back. The benevolence of the tsirama is, 
however, not unconditional, for if they are annoyed in any 
way, as for instance by too many quarrels among the women, 
theV will send bad luck in hunting and fishing, and in these 
circumstances it seemed that steps might be taken to conjure 
them out of the village. To see the tsirama of a dead relative 
in dreams, although a terrifying experience, is not considered 
to be unlucky. 

Tsirama steal away the souls {tsirama) of others and so 
make them ill, and beriwa, which in some cases seem to be 
considered as identical with tsirama, behave in the same way. 
It seemed that it was principally fear of tsirama and beriwa 
that prevented any native leaving the village after dark unless 
accompanied by a companion, even if he desired to go only a 
few yards. 

The tsirama or beriwa of dead men go to Ariyo in the 
bush behind Waimatuma (Cape Possession) where there is a 
big garden cultivated by the shades. There food abounds, 
and all are happy. If a living man reaches Ariyo he dies ; if 
plants from Ariyo are brought to mortal gardens, they are 
transported back by spirits. This information was obtained 
at Siria, but at Mou it was stated that living men had reached 
Ariyo and brought back plants from the Ariyo gardens, but 
they withered and died when transplanted to the gardens of 
mortals, which for some time after produced only small crops. 

Boubou, an 'evil spirit like fire,' was said to intercept the 
tsirama on its way to Ariyo, and to ask if its ears and nose 
had been pierced during life. After receiving an affirmative 
answer, Boubou asks how the person died and, according to 
the answer, directs the spirit to one of a number of roads, 
all of which, however, reach Ariyo. Nothing could be dis- 
covered as to the origin or physical characteristics of Boubou, 
but there was no reason to believe that his existence was due 
to misunderstood Mission teaching. 




Mekeo, or the Mekeo district, is in British New Guinea 
the generally recognized term for the neighbourhood of Yule 
Island and the country in the region of Hall Sound, extending 
from the Ufafa river on the east, to Kevori in the west, and 
stretching inland to the foothills of the main range\ This 
area, constituting the alluvial flat and delta of the St Joseph 
River — here called the Angabanga — is inhabited by a number 
of tribes which may be divided into two groups, namely Roro 
and Biofa-Vee, according to the language spoken by each, 
and the system of chieftainship which prevails^ But to 
apply the single term Mekeo to the whole valley inhabited 
by these two groups is confusing since the Roro-speaking 
tribes on the coast use it themselves to denote their inland 
neighbours, the Biofa-Vee. It is in this restricted sense that 
the word Mekeo will be used in this book, that is to say it 
will be applied only to the territory and language of the two 
tribes, the Biofa and Vee, who speak a common language and 
who, in spite of chronic warfare, have long intermarried and 
have even formed colonies in each other's villages. A small 
but uncertain number of villages on the middle reaches of 
the Biaru River must be considered to constitute an ethno- 
graphical annexe to Mekeo, for physically and in their customs 

^ Further, Mekeo is sometimes used as a synonym for the Government Station, 
" near the village of Aipiana, which was until recently the administrative head- 
quarters of this district, and it is in this sense that Mekeo is marked on some maps. 

2 The results of physical examination, to which reference has already been 
made in the Introduction, show that the division here made is a natural one with a 
well-marked physical basis. 

312 The Mekeo Tribes 

generally their Inhabitants resemble the Mekeo folk among 
whom they have formed many colonies and with whom they 
intermarry to a limited extent. 

Two of the Roro-speaking tribes, the Roro and the 
Paitana, have already been described as inhabiting the land 
lying between the Biofa-Vee territory and the coast, while on 
the west following the trend of the coast are the Waima and 
Kevori, both speaking dialects of Roro. To the east of Mekeo 
lies the domain of the Pokao-speaking tribes, while further 
inland is the hilly country known as Lapeka. Thus the whole 
of the Biofa-Vee territory lies west of longitude 146° 40' E. 
and, with the exception of the Vee village of Inawabui Kipo, 
north of the parallel of 8^40' s. latitude. The lowest reaches 
of the St Joseph River are thus outside Mekeo territory, as is 
the whole of the St Joseph River delta. 

The position of Mekeo villages is shown on the map 
given on p. 194. The village names in the map are those by 
which they are generally known, though some of them are 
really the Roro names for the villages, the names applied by 
the Mekeo natives themselves being either the names of the 
village sites or of the dominant clan (pangua) in the village^ 
Although villages are sometimes called by the names of their 
sites, and although the idea of a village (existing as a unit 
made up of individuals belonging to a number of clans) is not 
foreign to the native mind, no word for village could be found 
other th^in pangua which properly means clan. 

The houses are built in parallel rows facing each other 
on opposite sides of the open space which constitutes the 
village street, often one or more houses face inwards at the 
ends of the parallel rows, so that the houses of the village 
form a rough parallelogram. Plate XLII is a view of part 
of Veifa village, the tallest building being a clubhouse. Each 
village consists of portions of a varying number of pangua 
(clans or local groups), representatives of each of which are 
found in few or many villages, according to the strength and 
amount of dispersion of particular clans. As a rule the houses 
of each clan are built close together and near or among them 
stands the m/u, i.e. clubhouse of the local section of the clan. 

* Sometimes the names of villages are tribal, perhaps pointing back to a time 
when pangua and tribe were coextensive. Thus Veifa is sometimes called Biofa 
and the Mekeo name for the village commonly called Rarai is Vee. Oriropetana 
(Onginofeka) and Aipiana (Aivea) are other Mekeo villages, commonly known by 
their Roro names. 



Part of Veifa villagfe 


Geographical and Social Relations 313 

The missionaries of the Sacred Heart into whose care the 
Mekeo and the greater part of Roro-speaking districts fell, 
have published certain figures, in which no distinctions of sex 
or age are drawn, which show the population of a number of 
Mekeo villages in 1897. These figures indicate that at the 
date mentioned, Inawi had a population of 408, Inawae 89, 
Veifa 634, Amoamo 140, Aipiana 444, Oriropetana (Ongino- 
feka) 190, Bebeo 185, Inawaia 315, Yeku Baibua 178, Eboa 
300, Inawabui Kipo 2 2o\ 

The Mekeo population consisted originally of single Vee 
and Biofa settlements, which were within a mile or so of each 
other, on the eastern bank of the river in the neighbourhood 
of the present site of Oriropetana. Dissensions arose, and at 
various times groups split from these villages and retired to 
the neighbourhood of their garden and hunting lands where 
they formed the nuclei of the present Mekeo villages, though 
it is clear that the original sites selected by these young com- 
munities were often other than those occupied by the present 

At the present day the Biofa villages are Inawae, Inawi, 
Aipiana, Veifa, Oriropetana, Amoamo, and Afai. All except 
the last named form a compact group on the banks of the 
Angabanga, interposed between the northern and southern 
Vee villages. The Vee seems to have been frequently 
worsted by the Biofa in the days of chronic warfare before the 
coming of the white man. Perhaps this was on account of 
their more scattered position. Their villages are Rarai, 
Ififu, Inawauni, Inawabui Kaenga and Bebeo to the north of 
the Biofa villages, while to the south of the latter lie Yeku 
(Inawaia Koko) Eboa, Inawaia and Inawabui Kipo. 

From their geographical position the external relations of 
the Mekeo tribes were necessarily limited. The people of 
Inaukina and other villages on the middle reaches of the 
Biaru have so settled among and intermarried with the Mekeo 
tribes that they must be considered rather as a factor in the 
composition of these tribes than as strangers in frequent 
relation with the Biofa and Vee. The mountains behind 
Mekeo support a scattered population, rich only in feather 
ornaments, stone adzes and clubs, all of which were brought 
for barter to the Mekeo villages ; these trade relations were 

^ Album des Missions de la Nouvelle-Guin^e confines a la Society des Missionaires 
du Sacre-Cceur^ p. 28. 

314 The Mekeo Tribes 

particularly constant with the mountain communities of 
Inauvarene and Lopiko. Frequent fighting took place be- 
tween Mekeo and the Roro-speaking tribes, though their 
enmity was not sufficiently bitter to prevent a certain 
amount of intermarriage between Mekeo on the one hand 
and Waima, Roro, Bereina, Rapa and probably Mou on 
the other. With Waima indeed frequent markets were 
held, which took place especially at Motura, a convenient 
meeting place, well shaded by big trees on the banks of 
the Oriki creek about halfway between Bereina and Babiko. 
To these markets Mekeo brought bananas and other garden 
produce to exchange for all kinds of fish, especially shell 
fish. It was stated that long ago there was war with 
Epa, a village of Nara on the extreme eastern frontier of 
Mekeo. Extending from Epa northwards to the hills behind 
Inawabui Kaenga are the little known Lapeka or Rapeka, 
who have in the past contributed towards the peopling of 
the Mekeo villages and are still not infrequent visitors to 
the St Joseph River valley, where they intermarry to some 
extent with Inawauni, Eboa and Bebeo\ Their position 
north-east of Eboa distinguishes them from the Lopiko, a 
scarcely known people situated among the mountains of the 
Mount Yule range. 

There has been frequent contact between Mekeo and the 
more eastern of the Elema tribes of the Papuan Gulf, and 
a few Mekeo villages, the most important of which is Inawi, 
have adopted certain customs such as kaivakuku (cf. pages 299 
to 301) as well as much of the Gulf decoration for their ufu 
which they display on ceremonial occasions (cf. Plate XLV). 
The Biofa are on the best of terms with Yokea and consider- 
able parties sometimes visit their friends of the coast. Matters 
stand otherwise with the Vee, for the warriors of Yokea 
would formerly ascend the Biaru River and attack the Vee 
sometimes in concert with the Biofa. Once indeed the men 
of Veifa united with an Elema tribe and rushed Rarai ; the 
inhabitants took to their coconut trees in the crowns of which 
they were safe from the weak archery of the Biofa, but they 
had forgotten the Gulf natives who leisurely picked them out 
from the tree tops with their arrows. 

It has already been stated that the Mekeo villages are 

As noted in the Introduction, Dr Strong considers that the Lapeka 
rtion of the mountain tribe of Kuni, somewhat modified by contact with M 

Geographical and Social Relations 315 

typically composed of the representatives of a number of clans 
{pangua) though a few villages such as Inawae recently con- 
sisted of one clan only\ 

The tables on pages 369 to 372 show the clans at present 
existing in each village, and the diagram on pages 328 and 329 
the group to which each belongs by descent {iigopit). But 
although it is clear that portions of the same clan exist in 
villages far apart, and that Vee clans are found in pre- 
dominantly Biofa villages, it is not until an attempt is made to 
obtain the history of the events leading to the present grouping 
that it becomes obvious how complicated were the movements 
which preceded the present geographical distribution of the 

The history of Afai, a small Biofa community at present 
settled between Aipiana and Kevori, illustrates the number of 
times that portions of clans have come together and after 
having seemingly coalesced so as to form a village, have 
separated to fuse again partially before once more wandering 

The first migration from Afai, of which details could be 
obtained, was traced to faction fights in the village alleged to 
have arisen over a difference of opinion as to how the ' laugh ' 
of a laughing jackass originated. Long ago when Afai was a 
powerful village, the old men assembled in the ttfu had just 
lit a fire on the verandah, when they noticed a bird ongoye — 
the laughing jackass — perched on a tree close to the ufu 
' laughing ' and jerking the posterior part of its body. This 
gave rise to comment and discussion ; some said the sound 
came from the bird's mouth, others from its rectum. It is 
alleged that two factions were formed each supporting its own 
views, and bloodshed took place. The stronger faction com- 
posed of the local groups of the clans Inawefia, Inawongai, 
Mimingi, Inaupio and Maipa stayed at their village site, the 
weaker party removed to near Kevori, where they began to 
build a new village. When the village was partly built they 
again heard the jackass ' laughing ' on a neighbouring tree. 
This reminded them of the old days before the split and so 
saddened them, that they again moved, this time as far as 

^ The village of Inawae formerly consisted of a single pa?igua, Inawae Ipiau. 
Recently a few families from Ikoiko have come to Inawae, but to a certain extent 
keep their autonomy and within the village are considered to form a group by 
themselves. Besides these there are a few Roro at Inawae (cf p. 319). 

3i6 The Mekeo Tribes 

Yule Island. Here again the jackass laughed and they moved 
to Nara, near the present site of Vanumae, finally migrating 
eastwards to Kapatzi, where they settled. According to the 
Mekeo folk, they constitute the people marked Kabadi on the 
maps and whom the Afai people still speak of as ' admai 
akirndi,' i.e. 'older and younger brothers \' Later the five 
local groups remaining at the old Afai site dispersed ; parts of 
each of these went to Inawi where all remained for some time. 
The greater part of Mimingi, however, migrated to Ififu, where 
this clan is now reduced to a single family. Subsequently a 
portion of Inawefia left Inawi, the remainder of the clan then 
migrated to the present site of Afai, there joining a number of 
Inaukina folk and w^ith them forming the clan Ikomongemonge. 
At the same time certain Maipa families went to Inaukina 
where they still persist. Again a dispersion took place, with 
the final result that Inaupio is still at Afai with a single 
Mimingi family ; with these there are one or two families 
of Inawongai. Maipa moved to Aipiana and a single 
Mimingi family went to live at Inawi where its members 
retain their autonomy. Subsequently Ikomongemonge split 
from Afai and moved to the other side of a creek and there 
made a small villagel 

From this account of the wanderings of the people who at 
one time or another formed Afai, it is clear that the chief 
causes of the repeated splittings and migrations were faction 
fights within the village, and perhaps a certain migrant 
tendency which seems to exist everywhere among the Mekeo- 
and Roro-speaking tribes. But other causes were at times j 
operative, though certainly in a smaller number of cases ; thus % 
a weak stock might be driven from the site upon which it had \ 
settled, possession being taken by the conquerors. At one 
time one of the Afai local groups settled near Inawi, but their 
powerful neighbours drove them away and seized the site 
of the settlement, where they still enjoy the coconuts planted 

* Kabadi is the Motu name for this people ; I have not myself visited Kabadi, 
but the language which closely resembles Motu makes it tolerably certain that no 
body of Mekeo folk large enough to form the basis of the Kabadi population has 
migrated thither in historic times, though doubtless an Afai group emigrated and 
joined the Kabadi people. At Nara Dr Strong was told the 'jackass' story as 
accounting for the secession of the present Doura community from Nara, so that 
too much stress need not be laid on the authenticity of this story in any particular 

' Since this was written Afai has once more dispersed ; Inaupio and Inawefia 
are for the most part at Inawi, Maipa among the Roro-speaking tribes at Waima, 
and the remainder of the former Afai folk at Aipiana. I 

Geographical and Social Relations 317 

by the men they evicted. Sometimes, too, land was ceded in 
payment for a blood-price, this is probably far from common, 
but the following instance was related by Father Egidi. 
Certain men of Waiaka clan killed a man of Inawefae clan 
and for a long- time were so careful that the Inawefae had no 
opportunity of taking revenge. The ufuapie relationship 
(cf. p. 349) exists between Inawefae and Waiaka, and 
accordingly members of these clans met under the restraint 
imposed by the solemn ceremonial of the rites by which a 
village is purged of its grief w^hen mourning ceases. After a 
time the matter was discussed and the men of Inawefae 
agreed to forego their revenge, accepting as blood-price a 
particular strip of land which became their absolute property. 

The history of Afai, as already given at some length, was 
obtained in the course of inquiries into the history of the 
little known Kapatzi (Kabadi) district, but its intricacy, as 
well as the situation of the village, which is rather difficult of 
access, did not encourage research into the present condition 
and internal relations of its pangua. Accordingly, the village 
of Inawi was selected for the purpose of studying the social 
system of the Mekeo tribes. Not only is Inawi one of the 
oldest settlements of the district, but matters have here been 
less confused by the wholesale adoption of immigrant stocks 
than in many other villages, especially those belonging to the 
Vee. The selection of Inawi for study was indeed particularly 
fortunate for when I subsequently met the Rev. Father V. M. 
Egidi of the Sacred Heart Mission, he informed me that he 
had taken a complete genealogy of the village, and this to- 
gether with his store of knowledge and experience he placed 
freely at my disposal. 

The village of Inawi consists of seven pangua, namely 
Waiaka (Inawi) Paiapaia, Ongofoina Kipo, Ngangai, Okope, 
Ungo and Ipange, the last xhx^^ pangua are immigrant, and 
did not originally belong to either the Biofa or Vee. 

Besides these there is a considerable settlement at Inawi 
of folk of \x\2^nA2. pangua, who properly speaking belong to 
Afai, where they still possess land, although they spend most 
of their time at Inawi. 

The history of Inawi is as follows: certain Waiaka men 
and their families appear to have been the first to leave 
loiovina which according to history is the original home of 
the Biofa tribe. Soon after Paiapaia split from loiovina, and 

1 8 The Mekeo Tribes 

settled on the present site of Inawi, the Waiaka settlement at 
that time beinj^ further down stream near the present site of 
Inawae. There Waiaka was joined by certain families of the 
Okope clan who came down the river, war-driven fugitives 
from their own country. This was perhaps on the Biaru and 
may have been Amoamo Inaukina, in which case they would 
apparendy belong to the stock known as Ipange. The 
fucritives appear to have been well received by Waiaka, and 
soon after moved up-stream with them and built their houses in 
continuity with those of the Paiapaia settlement, where they 
were joined by a number of Ongofoina and Ngangai families 
who had been unable to agree with the majority of their 
respective fellow villagers. It does not seem possible to 
determine exactly when the representatives of Ungo and 
Ipange joined what was then a rapidly growing settlement. 
Ipange is an immigrant stock from the neighbourhood of 
Amoamo Inaukina on the Biaru river (cf p. 311), which, in 
course of time, has become widely distributed throughout 
Mekeo, and has given rise to many weak local groups. The 
history of Ungo is less clear, but according to Father Egidi 
Ungo is part of an emigrant stock which comprises Meaunge 
of Aipiana village, Kalau of Veifa village and Afanga of 
Ififu village. The recent settlement by Inawefia has already 
been alluded to and was clearly due to constant harassing 
wars waged by Waima against Afai. 

The history of the constitution of Inawae village is simpler 
than that of Inawi. This village contains three local groups, 
but the d.omm'dSir. pangua Inawae Ipiau is alone strong enough 
to be of importance, and for some time this pangua constituted 
the whole village. The first historical division of the original 
I nsiwa^ pa ngua produced Inawefae and Inawefia. Soon after 
a further split gave rise to the thveQ pangua Inawae Angamea, 
Inawae Ipiau and Inawae Aungako, a certain number of people 
remaining in the neighbourhood of the original Inawae 
settlement constituting Inawae Ipuko. There is no definite 
information as to why certain Ikoiko families (Vee) settled at 
Inawae where they now are, and where, to some extent, they 
preserve their autonomy, but probably their settling was due 
to faction fights in their own village. Finally there is at 
Inawae a single family of Roro origin, descended from one of 
the children of the chief of a Roro settlement which formerly 
existed on the coast between Babiko and Waima. The Roro 

Geographical and Social Relations 319 

colony was attacked by the men of Inawi and Inawae and the 
chief s young children carried off as prisoners of war\ 

^ As a general rule the Mekeo tribes did not make prisoners of war, and it 
appeared that when an exception was made, the captives were always young 
children who would be adopted into the village of their captor. Father Egidi, to 
whom I am indebted for the substance of this note, says that when he first came to 
Mekeo there was at Veifa a native of Waima who had come into the community as 
a child-prisoner, and who has since returned to his own people. Further, both at 
Inawi and Aipiana there are families descended from children brought into the 
villages as captives. Aiai, a boy carried off from Waima and adopted into the 
\Vaiaka^rt/?o«« of Inawi, was always considered as a brother of Opungu Ongo- 
paina, because adopted by an uncle of the latter. Young girls were carried off and 
adopted even more commonly than boys. 

The history of how the particular Roro family now settled at Inawae first came 
as captives to that village is an interesting comment on what has been said above, 
since it shows that what may technically be described as the taking of child 
prisoners is for practical purposes the adoption of individuals from a tribe with 
whom, in spite of periodical disagreements and killings, more or less constant 
communication and intermarriage took place so that neither party entertained any 
feeling of embittered enmity. Of the Roro family settled at Inawae, Father Egidi 
says : 'A group of Roro natives formed a settlement on the bank of the creek 
Ariopa, between Babiko and Waima. Here they commanded the coastal plain 
and prevented free intercourse between the inhabitants of the coastal and inland 
villages. The coastal people determined to attack the interlopers, but these appealed 
for help to the Mekeo villages Inawi and Inawae into which Roro had at that time 
freely married. The Roro, with the help of Inawi and Inawae, repulsed their 
adversaries, but could not agree among themselves as to the distribution of the 
loot, so the Mekeo men attacked the Roro, defeated them, killing every one except 
the children of the chief whom they carried off and brought up at Inawae, making 
themselves masters of the site of the Roro settlement, and retaining this land 
until driven out by the men of the coast. As the adopted children grew up the 
elder of these returned to their father^s village where one of them resumed the 
dignity of chief, while the youngest boy remained at Inawae with his sister who had 
married into this viUagre.' 



laicafangai, kangakanga and uftc are so closely connected 
in the minds of the natives of Mekeo that before discussing 
the two latter at length something must be said as to the 
relation in which all three stand to each other. 

Each pangua (clan) has as iauafangai an animal or plant, 
which is often the same for the majority or even {ox 2}\ pangua 
said to be ngopu, that is, of common descent. Probably at 
one time all the pangua of each ngopu group had the same 
iauafangai, as is still the case for the pangua of the Inawi 
ngopu group of the Biofa tribe, whose iauafangai is ongoi the 
breadfruit tree. In few instances a pangua may have more 
than one iauafangai, and this occurs in a number oi pangua 
of the Ngangai ngopu group of the Vee tribe. 

Besides the iauafangai, which if edible may be eaten, each 
pangua has one or more kangakanga, i.e. distinctive ornaments 
which are in fact clan-badges, and which take the name of the 
animals or plants, or parts of animals or plants, or more rarely 
of certain inanimate objects, from which they are derived. 
Each kangakanga is connected in a special manner with the 
people of the pangua of which it is the badge, and broadly 
speaking the animals providing the kangakanga are not eaten, 
though they may be and often are killed for their feathers 
(the majority of animals providing kangakanga being birds) 
which the members of the pangua wear, often worked into 
special designs. 

Each of the or\g\n2i\ pangua possessed, and each local group 
of every pangua should still possess, at least one ufu, that is 
clubhouse. It was stated that of old the names of the ufu 
belonging to a single ngopu group, and therefore originally 
to men having a common iauafangai, were or should have 

lauafangai and Chibhottses 321 

been identical ; and that the changes which have occurred in 
the names of the ufu were either due to a desire to com- 
memorate some historical event, or were names given to their 
ufu hy pangua which had newly arisen. The result of careful 
inquiry shows that ngopu groups, iauafangai and ufu, were 
united in the manner indicated in the following scheme. 

Tribe Ngopu lauafangai Ufu 

Biofa i^'^^^^'^ Ongoi Maipa 

(Inawae Imou Apiongai 

Vee |Ngangai Ongoi Pupungapi 

(Kuapengi Imou Oafua 

Some little doubt exists as to whether imou is really 
the original iauafangai of the Inawae ngopu group and this 
doubt is very typical of the condition of things throughout 
the whole of Mekeo at the present day, and is probably 
not due to white influence to any large extent. Certainly 
there are men still active and energetic, who were important 
members of their communities before the early nineties when 
white influence first began to be exerted in the district, who 
confuse iauafangai and kangakanga and the names of these 
with those of clubhouses. In fact it must be assumed that 
Mekeo had, apart from white influence, reached a state at 
which iauafangai (perhaps representing the earliest clan- 
badges) had become degraded and were confused with kanga- 
kanga which in their turn were thus subjected to an influence 
making for degeneration. Father Egidi states that the weak 
local group, Inawaia Koko of Yeku Baibua village, actually 
assert that oolo is alike their iauafangai, and one of their 
kangakanga. Further, it was obvious that the names of ufu 
tended to be confused with the names of iauafangai. 

It is not easy to see why the names of clubhouses and 
iauafangai should be thus confused, but there is no doubt of 
the fact concerning which Father Egidi writes in answer to a 

' Ufu, iauafangai and kangakanga are three terms very 
often confused by the natives, and although they all know the 
name of their own ufu, few trouble to remember those of 
the ufu of other pangua. I have even found children who 
did not know the name of their own ufu which, perhaps, may 
be explained by the small importance which the rising genera- 
tion attaches to the customs observed by the older men. 

s. N. G. 21 

322 The Mekeo Tribes 

Further, the name of the ufu is quite commonly confused 
with the iaiiafangai '. I recollect having met people who on 
my asking '' What is the ufu of that clan ?" answered " They 
invoke, or celebrate (for this, I think, is the meaning of the 
verb iatiafangai whose noun is iauafangai) such and such a 
thing," so that to be really sure of discovering the iatcafangai 
of a clan and learning whether it differs from the name of 
their ufu, it is necessary to make careful enquiry among the 
pangua of each village.' 


Sometimes the distinguishing feature of a clan-badge, that 
is to say the quality that makes it a kangakanga, is the special 
arrangement of ornaments, commonly worn singly or un- 
combined, without any particular significance being attached 
to them. Thus there are several combinations of two or three 
of the fretted turtle shell ornaments called kefe^, which are 
proper to certain clans, and are thus clan-badges kangakanga. 
Further Conus shell armlets worn on one arm constitute the 
kangakanga of Oala Aivea. 

There is apparently some little difference in the attitude 
of the different clans towards the animal from which their 
kangakanga is derived. As already stated the general rule is 
that the animal providing the kangakanga may be killed but 
not eaten ; this rule holds e.g. in the cases of the Veifa clans 
Fopafoina and Alo Fopafoina whose kangakanga is derived 
from the cockatoo. Ongofoina, on the other hand, will not 
kill the cock oolo, but plucks its feathers, while the men of 
Inafokoa both kill and eat the wallaby from which their 
kangakanga is derived. In the latter case the explanation is 
probably found in the importance of this creature as the only 
common source of animal food, while in the case of the cock it 
is clearly improvident as well as unnecessary to kill the birds 
whose much prized tail feathers can be easily removed. If an 
individual of -^pangua forbidden to eat the animal from which 
its kangakanga is derived should commit this offence, evil 
would fall not only on the wrong doer but also on other 
members of the clan. Thus if an Ongofoina man ate a certain 
kind of banana his fellows would be unsuccessful in their 

* The koiyu of the Roro-speaking tribes, from whom the Mekeo people obtain 
these ornaments. 

Clan-Badges 323 

hunting, and if the swordfish ikiio were eaten, deaths would 
result among the members of the clan. 

Married women eat the animals from which their husbands' 
kangakanga are derived, often becoming the special recipients 
of the flesh of these animals which have been killed and plucked 
by their husbands. As would be expected under these circum- 
stances a man takes no special precautions to avoid handling 
the dead body of his kangakanga. 

It was stated that the men oi Kvci02svi0 pangua would eat 
the young shoots of the palm funguka, which provides one of 
their kangakanga. 

No general statement can be made concerning the origin 
of kangakanga nor did it seem that the natives had any clear 
idea of their origin or significance. They were ' old time 
fashion ' though it seemed certain that they were in some 
instances regarded as much less ancient than the iauafangai. 
Perhaps many of the kangakanga were assumed as badges at 
the time of the migrations from loiovina and loiofaopo. This 
was, I understood, the opinion of Father Vitali, who has 
fifteen years' experience of the Mekeo district. Again, 
although the actual stories told concerning the origin of the 
kangakanga are trivial, the fact that no legends at all existed 
concerning the origin of the iauafangai suggests that the 
latter are older than the former. 

The men of Amoamo are said to have selected their 
kangakanga, the palm funguka, on account of the strength 
and toughness of its wood ; the same reason was alleged for 
the name of the Amoamo ufu, the posts of which are made of 

The following story is told in explanation of the adoption 
of the cock as the kangakanga of Ongofoina : 

Long ago the fowl and the megapode lived together in the 
bush. Apparently the fowl at that time made a large nest, 
perhaps like the mound of the megapode, for the story relates 
that the fowl became lazy and would not trouble to protect its 
eggs but laid them in the open. As lizards and other animals 
eat these eggs the birds came nearer and nearer to the villages, 
for protection, when men, seeing the beauty of their feathers, 
adopted a special arrangement of them as their kangakanga. 

It was stated that the palm im'du, one of the kangakanga 
of ¥^o\om\o pangua, does not represent the ordinary palm of 


324 The Mekeo Tribes 

that species, but refers to a particular two-headed individual 
called iyndu a^igaiiga ngua which appears to have been selected 
as kangakanga on account of its striking and very uncommon 
peculiarity. It is shown in the tables given on pages 369 to 
372 that a number of clans have as kangakanga special 
arrangements of the fretted turtle-shell ornament kefe and the 
Comis armshell called auau. The occurrence of these as 
kaiigakajiga is explained by the legend that long ago a woman 
gave birth at loiovina to a girl child called Ururi Kefe, who 
was born with armshells on her arms and kefe on her head, 
arms and legs. 

Where, as is usually the case, a kangakanga is derived 
from an animal or plant, the members of the clan with which 
it is associated wear a definite part of the animal or plant, or 
a representation of one of its characteristic features, as a badge 
when dancing. Such representations, when the animal pro- 
viding the kangakanga is a bird, are made of its feathers and 
may in addition imitate some feature of the species. This 
occurs in the case of the dancing headdress of the Ofiko clan 
of Rarai village described on page 326. As an example of 
the wearing of a single characteristic feature of the animal 
from which the kangakanga is derived may be cited the sword 
of the swordfish ikuo (figure 32), worn in the hair by men of 
Ongofoina/^^^^^a, whose kangakanga it is. 

Apart from certain cases in which a clan sells or exchanges 
with another clan the right to wear its kangakanga, the right 
of each clan to the exclusive use of its kangakanga as a badge 
is universally recognized^ So much is this the case that at 
Veifa it was considered almost a duty, for anyone who had 
not the sword of the swordfish as kangakanga, to give the swords 
of any of these fishes he might catch to the men of Ongofoina 
pangua. Although each clan had alone the right of wearing 
its specific kangakanga, and though this right was as a rule 
jealously guarded, a clan might sell or exchange its right, 
thus in 1904 Inaukina pangua of Rarai village came to 
Veifa and sold to Ongofoina pangua the right to wear the 
feather kangakanga called fole. Ongofoina now has the 
right to sell this again if it should wish to do so. As an 
instance of exchange the action of Oala Aivea and Alo Aivea 

* Dr Strong points out that even at the present day nothing excites 2^ pangua so 
readily as a threat of 'stealing' its kangakanga. 

Plate XLIII 

Copyright by the Kev. II. M. Dauncey 

Feather kangakanga 

Clan-Badges 325 

pangua may be cited, these pangua extended their conjoint 
right to wear in a special manner, the fretted turtle shell orna- 
ment kefe to Ng^LUgai pangua, in return for the right to wear 
the latter's feather headdress mengunge, which is said to repre- 
sent the mountain Boboleva. Many kangakanga are extremely 
elaborate headdresses which have worked into their fabric 
portions of a particular animal or plant. Others imitate some 
characteristic feature of the animal or plant, but all such head- 
dresses are very elaborate and resemble in general appearance 
the feather oada of the Roro-speaking tribes which are also 
clan badges (cf. Plate XXXIII). 

Plate XLIII shows three Mekeo headdresses, for permission 
to reproduce which I am indebted to the Rev. H. M. Dauncey. 
Unfortunately I am unable to name the clans to which they 
belong or the kangakanga they represent ; however, they 
show sufficiently the elaborate nature of these headdresses. 
It is clear that, besides differentiations which at one time 
may have been regarded as all-important, the beauty of the 
result produced is distinctly one of the objects sought at the 
present day. 

Where the kangakanga represents a mountain or mountain 
peak, feathers are worked into a design which is supposed to 
reproduce a characteristic outline of the mountain. I was 
quite unable to discover the origin of the opposed chevrons of 
red and yellow feathers which, when united into a single piece 
of feather work, is called aungapa and is one of the kangakanga 
of \\[ 2a2\^2. pangua. 

The following are examples of headdresses or other 
dancing ornaments made from, or imitating a characteristic 
feature of, the animal or plant from which they are derived. 

Vsf d\^k.2i pangua makes its headdress in imitation of one of 
its ka7zgakanga the kapoc tree. 

Y^oXormo pangua of Rarai village mimics the outline of the 
particular double-headed palm of the species known as zmou 
which was stated to have been chosen as kangakanga on 
account of this peculiarity. 

The plant called pingu from which the kangakanga of 
Bebeo pangua of Bebeo village is derived, is a palm with 
leaves which bleach easily, and which resembles the Australian 
* cabbage palm.' It is not imitated, but narrow strips of its 
bleached leaves are worn attached to the dancers' wrists and 
knees ; each strip is folded transversely many times and the 


The Mekeo Tribes 

I f 

whole Is pressed together so as to resemble accordion 


The men of Ngangai Ipuaina pangua 
of Rarai village and of Ngangai pangtta of 
Inawi village wear as their kangakanga an 
extremely beautiful feather headdress called 
7nengunge in which, according to a sketch 
I have seen, the plumes of Paradisea 
raggiana predominate ; it is said to repre- 
sent the outline of Boboleva, Mount David- 

The people of Oxi^oio\x\2L pangua wear 
as kangakanga the sword of the swordfish 
ikuo, projecting from their front hair as a 
Papuasian commonly wears a comb ; further, 
leaves, or sometimes an ornament said to 
represent the leaves of the plant foame, 
which is also a kangakanga, may be worn 
projecting backwards from their waist- 

O^^io pangua of Rarai has as headdress 
and kangakanga a framework of radiating 
bars covered with feathers, said to repre- 
sent the radiating feather shafts in the crest 
of the goura pigeon and each bar is said to 
terminate in one or more actual goura 

The men of Ngangai /<3;^^^^ of Inawi 
village when dancing wear aulda, a feather 
headdress consisting of hornbill feathers 
mounted in two lateral series on a central 
axis which terminates in a plume of the 
tail feathers of a cock. The hornbill 
feathers are held in place by pinupinu, 
i.e. string on which is mounted a closely 
set series of the small red breast feathers 
of a species of parrot (Charmosyna sp.). 

The dance ornament of y[2iung^ pangua 
of Rarai village consists of bleached 
Fig 32. Sword of crinkled strips of the leaves of the pingu 
nnn'!t^'\"'''''T'^ ""^ Paln^ pendant from an erect axis covered 

ofOngofoina. ^N\U\ pinupinu. 

Clan-Badges 327 

Kangakanga were never worn in war when men of all 
pangua decked themselves with cassowary plumes and painted 
themselves black, and no effort was made on the part of the 
combatants to recognize and avoid attacking men of their 
own iauafangai or kangakaiiga. The painting on the faces 
of dancers does not refer to iauafangai or kangakanga though 
at Veifa an old man, whose information could neither be 
verified nor contradicted, was understood to say that at 
Inaukina on the Biaru River the method of painting the face 
varied according to clan. 

A list of villages, pangua, ngopu groups, iauafangai, club- 
houses and kangakanga is given on pages 369 to 372. 

As regards the kangakanga in this list, it is probable 
that many pangua have more than are indicated, but it 
seems certain that the kangakanga given are the most 
important. In the table no attempt is made to distinguish 
between the animal providing the kangakanga and the part of 
the animal that is actually the clan-badge. In this I conform 
to native use which in many cases speaks of both the animal 
providing the kangakanga and the kangakanga itself by the 
same name. 


It has already been stated that a number of pangua 
claiming common descent form a ngopu group. In each of 
the Mekeo tribes there are two ngopu groups which respectively 
bear the names of the earliest /^/^^//^ with which at one time 
the ngopu groups were coextensive, i.e. the names of the Biofa 
ngopu groups are Inawi and Inawae, those of the Vee being 
Ngangai and Kuapengi. All these names are also the names 
of villages^ 

The table on pages 369 to 372 which gives the present geo- 
graphical position of the ^i^^o pangua according to villages, 
with their iauafangai and kangakanga, also gives the ngopu 

^ In Mekeo itself, Inawi village is commonly spoken of as Waiaka by the 
natives, the name for the site on which the village stands and whence its dominant 
patigua has derived its name. Father Egidi points out that when a Mekeo native 
speaks of Inawi he commonly means the pangua of this name in the village of 
Veifa. The Roro-speaking tribes on the other hand when speaking of Inawi 
commonly mean the village called Waiaka by the Mekeo tribes but marked on all 
the maps as Inawi, though at times they loosely apply Inawi as a name for almost 
any of the Biofa communities. Waiaka village will be spoken of as Inawi in this 
volume since it is marked Inawi upon all the maps and because it has always been 
spoken of by this name in all publications on British New Guinea. 


The Mekeo Tribes 

group to which each pangua belongs, but this latter informa- 
tion Is far more conveniently given in the following table, 
In the construction of which I received much assistance from 
Father Egldl. It also shows the subdivisions which have in 
the course of time sprung up in the majority of the primary 
7igopu groups. 




This table is meant to be used with those given on 
pages 369 to 372 but in order to avoid confusion the site of 
^2s:\i pangua is denoted by a village name in brackets in those 
cases in which difficulty might arise. My knowledge of the 
composition of the village of Afai is too slight to permit me 
to give the origin of its pa7igua, the names of which are noted 
on pages 315 and 316. 

Waiaka sometimes called Inawi 


,t • \ n^ c • f Ong-ofoina ( Veifa) 

P"^^^ ^ Ongofoma ion|ofoina Kipo (Inawi) 

Fopafoina Alo Fopafoina 

Unawi (Veifa) 
Oala Aivea 
Alo Aivea 

/Inawi ...^ 




Inawae Ipuko (Oriropetana) 
Inawae Aungako 

''Inawae ...\ Inawae Ipiau 



nawae Angamea (Inawabui) 

JVmoamo... j 

(Amoamo (Oriropetana) 






Ngangai , 

'Ngangai Ipangenga (Rarai) Ngangai (Inawi) 

Ngangai Ipuaina (Rarai) 



Bebeo Inaupako 

jlkoiko (Rarai) Ikoiko (Inawae) 

iofiko (Rarai) 


^Kuapengi (Rarai, 

I" Lolokanga 





f Kolomio (Rarai, Veifa) j Kuapengi of Kolomio 


[ifupaina jPangua Ifupaina 

^ ^ (Langi Ifupama 

^Inawaia Laiina 

Inawaia Koko 

^Poloka (Jeku Baibua) 

finaukiki j{"^"™Kipo 

1 (Inaukiki Kaenga 

llnawabui f Inawabui Kipo 

(Inawabui Kaenga 

f Oaki (Bebeo) 
lOaki (Jeku Baibua) 

Since the clans of each ngopu group are descended from a 
single pangua which originally gave its name to a ngopu 
group, it is reasonable to suppose that at one time all the 
clans of a given ngopu group had a common iauafangai and a 
common name for their ufu. The older natives who were 
consulted agreed that this was the case, and even at the 
present time, after such migrations, fusions and ruptures as 
have been described when considering the history of Afai 
village, the condition met with in the Inawi ngopu group of ' 
the Biofa tribe, and the Ngangai ngopu group of the Vee, is 
so nearly that described as originally prevalent, that there can 
be no doubt but that all the clans of a single ngopu group 
should have the same iauafangai and a common name for 
their ufu. 

Certain pangua are pointed out as being isolated and 
belonging to no ngopu group. This is the case with Maunge 

330 TJie Mekeo Tribes 

of Rarai, Afanga of Ififu, Fopa Onge of Bebeo and Okope of 
Inawi, all these being immigrant stocks not belonging to either 
Vee or Biofa and probably not related among themselves. 
Further certain immigrant pangua have so far retained their 
sense of common origin and are so largely autonomous, that 
the Biofa and Vee hold that they constitute a ngopu group 
by themselves, thus Eboa pangtia and the various divisions 
of Inafokoa which together form Eboa village are considered 
by the true natives of Mekeo to constitute a foreign ngopu 
group which is sometimes spoken of as Eboa- Inafokoa. 


Each local group of a clan [pangua) possesses, or once 
possessed, at least one clubhouse, called ufu by both the Biofa 
and Vee. In function these correspond closely to the Roro 
niarea but speaking generally are smaller and less substantially 
and elaborately built than the latter. War andy^2*^ ' experts,' 
in Mekeo always called y"^^*^ chiefs^ may, and in some cases do, 
have their own ufu, but these should bear the same name as 
the ufu of the lopia fda^ that is to say, each pangua should 
adhere to a single name for all its ^^^ and formerly this rule 
was strictly observed. It was further stated that of old the 
names of the ufu belonging to the pangua of a single ngopu 
group were identical, and that changes in name were due to a 
desire to commemorate some historical events 

As the result of many inquiries Father Egidi concludes 
that the ufu names of the ngopu groups of the two Mekeo 
tribes were originally as follows : 

Ngopu group Ufu 

Biofa IJ"^^^ Maipa3 

(Inawae Apiongai 

Vee {Ngangai Popungapi 

IKuapengi Oafua* 

' The functions of these are identical with those of the Waima jzJrt/>^« experts, 
cf chapter xxiv. 

2 Dr Strong points out that the custom of recording an historical event by an 
appropriate name which shall keep its memory green also occurs in the mountains 
behmd Mekeo, for a native of the Mount Yule range has recently named the 
settlement of which he is headman Inawi because of his admiration for Inawi 
village which he visited and also to celebrate the fact that he had made peace with 
Mekeo and the Government. 

J Maipa is the name of a bird, which Captain Barton states is a kind of shag. 
Otifua means 'rippling' or ' ripples,' the term being applied to the movement 
of the surface of still water caused by throwing in a stone. It does not necessarily 
follow that this is the original meaning of the word or the meaning of the ufu name. 

Chtbhouses 331 

These, as will be seen on referring to the tables on 
pages 369 to 372, are still to a very considerable extent the 
names of the ufu of the pangua of the respective ngopu 
groups. When changes were of recent occurrence it was 
generally possible to find out the reason for the change and 
the meaning of the new names, as in the following instances. 

The present ufu of the ^/^<^V section of Oala A'w^di pangua 
of Aipiana village — a pangua of the Inawi ngopu — is called 
Laila in memory of a Jokea clubhouse of that name in which a 
number of Oala Aivea visitors to Jokea were entertained \ 
The ufu of the war chief has retained its former name, i.e. 
Maipa, but the ufu of xkv^fda chief is now known as Mimingi; 
the reason for this change could not be discovered. The ufu 
of Afanga pangua of Ififu village is called Angopu meaning 
literally ' a village fallen into decay,' and this name was given 
it on account of the weakness of its builders' pangua. Again 
the name of the ufu of the Waiaka pangua at Inawi and 
Oriropetana (Onginofeka) which was formerly Maipa has 
comparatively recently been changed to Aungama (the 
black snake Pseudechis) as a public advertisement that these 
two clans had themselves begun to make 'medicine' on a 
serious scale, to defend themselves from the sorcerers of other 
villages. Such defence would not be passive, limited to 
neutralising the sorcery of others, but would in the main be 
offensive, and it was as a warning of their intentions that 
aungama — the name of the snake by means of which the most 
deadly magic is believed to be worked — was selected as the 
name of their ufu. 

In other instances the meaning of the secondarily acquired 
ufu name is unknown, as Mopina ufu of both Inawefae and 
Yi\i2L^^x\g\ pangua of Aipiana village. In some cases the bare 
meaning of the ufu name could be stated, but no reason for the 
change could be given. Paia ufu of Bebeo pangua of Bebeo 
village is an example of this as also the ufu names of the 
pangua Upunga and Amoamo of Oriropetana village, the 
name of whose ufu Funguka is also the name of a tree the 
hard wood of which is particularly durable and is often used as 
piles for ufu"^. 

^ For the meaning of the term ek'ei (and its opposite /iVi«^/^«) see p. 337- 
2 The toughness of the wood seems a possible reason for its adoption as the 
name of the ufu, but it could not be determined that this was really the reason, 
though it would be quite in accord with the habit of thought of the natives of this 
part of New Guinea. 

The Mekeo Tribes 

Among the Vee the change of ufu names seems to have 
occurred to a greater extent than among the Biofa. Lolo- 
kanga and Amaama the two pangua of Inawauni have ufu 
names Foyo and Eleia, the names of two mountain peaks ; 
Foyo is also the name of the ufu of ^2iwn<g^ pangua of Rarai. 
The two Inaukiki pangtca of Ififu village and of Inawabui 
pangua of Inawabui village have as tifu name Langina, the 
North-west wind. Again Kolomio, Pangua Ifupaina and 
Langi Ifupaina, all pangua of the Kuapengi ngopu group, 
have as 2ifu name Lainapa, the hornbill. 

Sometimes the ufu name is identical with that of the 
iauafangai or kangakanga, but this is not common ; the 
instances in which this occurs are summarised in the following 
table : 





Amoamo (B)^ 




Kolomio (V) 




Pangua Ifupaina (V) 




Langi Ifupaina (V) 




Oaki of Bebeo (V) 




Oaki of Yekubaibua (V) 




Angafua (I mm.) 




A warrior would call out, I may perhaps say invoke, the 
name of his ufu when striking a blow, and Father Egidi adds 
that warriors returning from a war party would embrace the 
main piles of the ufu * invoking and praising them.' A man 
who was tired or one whose muscles were stiff might in the 
same way speak the name of his ufu on stretching himself, 
but would more usually under these circumstances ' invoke ' 
his village by its geographical name, thus two men, one of 
Paiapaia pangua of Inawi village and the other of one of the 
Rarai pangua would respectively cry * Ah-h Waiaka inaenga ' 
and 'Ah-h Maea inaenga' Inaenga means 'belly,' 'centre,' 
and thus the ejaculation is equivalent to ' Heart of my 

Besides being the clubhouse of the men of the pangua 

^ B = Biofa ; V = Vee ; Imm. = Immigrant stock. 

"^ Dr Strong thinks that a less literal translation would convey the idea better, 
and he considers my use of the word 'invoke' scarcely justified. Instead of 
'heart of my village' he would translate very freely 'Would I were in my village' 
and adds that his servant, a Gaile (Motu) boy, when tired would often exclaim 
'Sivitoi' or 'O Sivitoio' or even ' iMekeo,' Sivitoi being the name of the Govern- 
ment station and thus the boy's temporary home. Sometimes gabu namo^ i.e. 
'good place' might be added, also when homesick (for Gaile) he would say 'hanua.' 
accordmg to Dr Strong clearly meaning ' Would I were in my village.' 


Clubhouses 333 

certain of the Mekeo ufu play an Important part In the cere- 
monial observed by warriors newly returned from war, who, on 
entering their villages, throw their spears at and into the ufu 
of the war and faia chiefs. The men themselves are said to 
be ngove — a term which corresponds to the rove of the Roro- 
speaking tribes (Motu helaga) — and spend a considerable 
time In strict seclusion in the ufu of \ki^ faia chiefs. On these 
occasions the front of the ufu is closed with plaited coconut 
leaves. They are said to spend most of their time of seclusion 
squatting round the fire ; they may eat but little and may 
not touch their food with their hand, but must convey It to 
their mouth w^th a fork. At the end of the period they wash 
themselves In water in which have been infused the leaves of 
a herb called fefu and of another herb the fruit of which 
is said to resemble a wild orange, and Is perhaps a species of 
Eugenia. After this they may leave the ufu during daylight, 
though they still return to it at night ; they may do no work, 
nor may they wear their ornaments, or approach their wives. 

They persevere In this conduct for some time, perhaps 
for two or three months, when a feast Is made in the ufu of 
one or more of the clans which had engaged in the war. 
Probably each pangua would kill pigs for the occasion, and 
although it appeared that the members of some clans might 
resort to the ufu of their war chiefs, the ufu of certain faia 
chiefs were the places set apart by old custom for holding this 
feast. It appeared that particular ufu were used only by the 
men of certain pangua, perhaps those of a particular ngopu 
group, thus It was pointed out that after warfare all the 
warriors of Inawi village would resort to the ufu of \}i\^ faia 
chief of Fopafolna pangua or If he had no ufu to that of the 
war chief of Ongofoina pangua^. After this feast the men 
who had killed their man during the recent fighting were 
decorated with kefe, the whole ceremony resembling that 
described on page 298 as taking place in like circumstances 
among the Walma. 

Ufu have no special designs, badges, or carvings attaching 
to them. The designs usually carved on the poles supporting 
the front overhang of the thatch, and occasionally found 
in other parts of the ufu, are the property and distinctive 
badge of the chief who has hereditary charge of the ufu. The 

1 Three of the Inawi clans including the only two strong ones belong to the 
Inawi ngopu group, the remaining four clans are all immigrant and weak. 

334 ^^^^ Mekeo Tribes 

same carvings might be used on ordinary dwelling-houses of 
individuals if these were members of the families of chiefs. 
The very striking addition to the general plan of the ufu 
shown in Plate XLIV is a special design stated to be the 
property of Mangemange the high chief {lopia f'da) of Ikoiko 
pangiia of Rarai village, who added it to Popungapi the ufu of 
his pangua, or as is more commonly said in colloquial talk, to 
his 7if2c. The ornament resembling a circular hut in outline, is 
produced by carrying the front central post of the u/u through 
the roof, and building round it the structure shown in the 
plate', which is said to represent Mount Drew, called Kafarua 
by the Mekeo people. 

In some Mekeo villages the decoration of the ufu on 
ceremonial occasions may rnimic that of the Papuan Gulf 
without the Mekeo folk having any accurate idea of the 
meaning of the decorations they have adopted. Thus as 
is shown in Plate XLV, which represents one of the ufu of 
Aipiana village, the whole apparatus of decoration has been 
borrowed including ' bull-roarer derivatives ' on which are 
portrayed conventional human figures representing the an- 
cestors of the Elema tribes^ 


Besides the ufu in which every adult male of xh^ pangua is 
interested and where, as already stated, strangers on official 
business and the chiefs of the ufuapie group are received and 
feasted, each village contains a number of ngove. These are 
houses of the usual size sometimes built on especially high 
piles but more often in no way differing outwardly from the 
common dwelling-houses of the village. Like the ufu each 
rigove is a clubhouse for men, but only the folk of the ikupu 
or family group who build a ngove have the right to use it. 
Every chief may build a ngove and each head-man of an ikupu 
has the same right. The men of the ikupu take part in the 
work of building the ngove, but the man who is recognized as 
head of his ikupu and who has the hereditary right to build 
the ngove is, in a broad sense, responsible for its upkeep, and 
each ngove is known by the name of the man having the 

' The photograph from which the plate is reproduced was taken by Captain 
Barton, but the information concerning it is given on Dr Strong's authority. 

* Cf. J. Holmes, 'Notes on the Religious Ideas of the Elema Tribes of the 
Papuan ^\A{i Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Vol. XXXI I. 1902. 

Plate XL IV 

Popungapi ufu of Rarai village 

Plate XLVl 

Ngove formerly existing at Veifa 



hereditary right to build it. Thus Ofe Lala yenga ngove, i.e. 
* Ofe Lala his ngove' was the name applied to the ngove for 
the upkeep of which Ofe Lala was responsible in virtue of his 
hereditary right, but which was used by all the males of the 
ikupu of which he was head. The building on tall piles in 
Plate XLIV behind Popungapi ufu is a ngove belonging, 
I believe, to Mangemange, the ovia fda of Ikoiko pangua 
of Rarai village. It will be noted that it has a front overhang 
projecting from the roof and a window in the thatch closing in 
the front of the building. These features are quite uncommon 
in ngove but I cannot say whether they are the personal 
property of Mangemange as the structure above the roof of 
his ufu is. In former days ngove were sometimes constructed 
on piles or rather slender poles between twenty and thirty 
feet long, standing clear above the houses of the village and 
the greater part of the surrounding vegetation as is shown in 
Plate XL VI reproduced from a photograph lent to me by 
Father Fillodeau of a former ngove at Veifa village. It seemed 
that ngove of this extreme height were built in order to 
frustrate the effects of sorcery. 

In a general way the purpose of the ngove is that of the 
ufu though it is not used on highly ceremonial occasions. 
No women may come into the ngove or upon its verandah, for 
the ngove is a clubhouse, the membership of which is limited 
to the members of a single ikupu. Lads who have attained 
to puberty and widowers sleep in the ngove and guests often 
pass the night in the ngove of the ikupu they are visiting. 
Although the head of each pangua has the right to build a 
ngove and although each chief, including the high chief or 
lopia fda, usually builds a ngove in virtue of this right, it 
appeared that he would not usually decorate its posts or even 
its main post with the carvings or ornaments to which he has 
an hereditary right, although his ufu, and perhaps also his 
dwelling-house, would be beautified in this way. 



In the account given on pp. 315 and 316 of the wanderings 
of the clans which at one time constituted Afai and in the sketch 
of the history of Inawi (pp. 317, 318), no mention has been 
made of any divisions within xSx^pangua though these divisions 
play an important part in the life of the village and may give 
rise to v\^^ paitgua. 

Within the pangua the unit is the ikupu which represents 
a family group, though often this term must be understood in 
the broadest possible sense. Thus while small weak ikupu 
may be composed of only a few householders, strong ikupu 
commonly consist of from thirty to fifty households. But, 
however large an ikupu may become, its members, other than 
those introduced by marriage or adoption, are always able to 
trace their origin to a common ancestor who may, however, 
be so remote that his name may have been forgotten by all 
except a few old men\ 

By making use of information supplied by Father Egidi 
and with the help of his genealogy of the Inawi clans, it 
becomes possible to give with considerable accuracy the com- 
position of each of the clans now settled in Inawi village, or in 
other words the composition of the village itself. 

At Inawi, as in most other villages, the ikupu of the 
stronger clans are divided into two groups called respectively 
fdangiau, which may be translated ' first born,' and ek'ei mean- 
ing 'subsequently born.' This division appears to be the 
result of the relatively slight feeling of solidarity existing 
between the members of the various ikupu forming one 
pangua. As X^mi pangua ages and becomes more populous the 

* Father Egidi points out that in those cases in which no common male ancestor 
is known the family tree is traced to a female ancestor. Weak pangua may have 
only two or three ikupu^ sUong pangua more than half-a-dozen. 

Divisions within the Pangua 337 

name and qualities of the common ancestor of its ikupu 
become forgotten or ignored in the welter of recent migrations 
and ambitions. Certain ikupu, however, continue to form 
a group acknowledging their close relationship, and the feeling 
of unity of origin and purpose becomes more intense within 
this limited circle until, stimulated by the desire for inde- 
pendence, or perhaps by the ambition of its leading man or by 
the lustre of some brilliant feat of war, these ikupu publicly 
declare their autonomy and invite the chiefs of their ufuapie 
group to come to their village so that by their presence at the 
appropriate feast they may acknowledge and make clear to 
all other pangua the social and political status of the newly 
constituted unit\ 

It by no means follows that all or any of the chiefs of the 
ufuapie group will assent to the request, and should they not 
do so the emerging group will approach other pangua with 
whom they are on good terms and propose that the ufuapie 
relationship be established between them. In any case it 
seems that when a numerically strong group feels the advisa- 
bility of asserting their relative independence they carry the 
matter through, even if this necessitates prolonged bickering 
with the conservative party, and perhaps a struggle with the 
lopia fda, the chief of xh^ pangua. Ultimately the new unit 
gives the necessary big feast, all the chiefs of the district, in- 
cluding their own lopia fda, come to it, the leader of the new 
unit is declared a chief, and the new section, while retaining 
the old name, is declared free and independent. The dignity 
of chief being hereditary the chief of the old section retains 
the title of lopia fda, and the old section is distinguished by 
the name oi fdangiau (first born) and the new one by that of 
ek'ei (subsequently born), the chief of this latter section being 
officially termed lopia ek'ei ; there is, however, a tendency to 
use this term in an unofficial sense for the head-man of a 
strong party in a pangua even before there has been any 
official recognition of the new party. 

In those cases in which the new division separates entirely 
from the section in which it was formed, it takes another name 
and becomes a new pangua. Such new pangua have little 
difficulty in obtaining official recognition for their chiefs as 
lopia fda if they are numerically strong, and above all if they 

^ For the meaning of the term ufuapie and the important part the men of this 
group play, cf. chapter XXX. 

S. N. G. 22 

338 The Mekeo Tribes 

are rich enough to be generous to their ufuapie and so secure 
their whole-hearted support. In these circumstances it is only- 
necessary for the men of the new pangua to make a feast 
grand enough to please everybody concerned. There are, 
at the present time, a number of pangtia who as yet have no 
generally recognized lopia fda. Such pangua are Ngangai 
Ipangenga of Rarai village (a split from tho. pangua Ngangai 
of Inawi village), certain other pangua of Ngangai, Ofiko 
pangua of Rarai, and IndMngom^ pangua also of Rarai, whose 
lopia fda died leaving no real or adopted heir. On the other 
hand the Ongo{o\\\2i pangua of both Inawi and Veifa villages 
have iopia fda and although the lopia fda of the Ongofoina 
pangua of Veifa lost his local dignity soon after he seceded 
and founded Ongofoina Y^'i^o pangua of Inawi village, another 
lopia fda was soon declared in his place. At the present time 
the people of Ngangai I pa.ngtnga. pangua of Rarai village are 
numerically strong enough and have enough influence to make 
it certain that no difficulty w411 be made about raising their 
chief to the dignity of lopia fda whenever they are prepared 
to give the necessary feast. 

The history of the formation of Or^go{o\x\2. pangua of Veifa 
village affords another instance. The first division into 
sections was the ordinary division into jdangiau and ekei. 
The members of the fdangiau section fought among them- 
selves ; the defeated party with the lopia fda at their head 
returned to the site of their former settlement at Inawi village 
and there formed the pangua Ongofoina Kipo (whose mem- 
bers still call the victors akiTnai, ' our younger brothers ') ; 
the victorious party, which consisted of one very populous 
ikupu, remained on the Veifa site and, reorganizing them- 
selves and the village, formed three new ikupu. Later the 
ikupu of this ek'ei section of Ongofoina pangua also fought 
among themselves, with the result that one party moved to 
Amoamo village where they formed Igniuma pangua while 
the other remained at Veifa. 

Besides being divided into fdangiau and ek'ei sections 
there is a further dual grouping of the ikupu. One of these 
divisions, which contains the ikupu of the lopia fda and as such 
is always a portion of the fdangiau section, is called fda 
aui or lopia aui, while the other which includes the ikupu 
of the war chief io lopia is called io aui and may be a portion 
of €\t\\^r fdangiau or ek'ei section. This double division was 

Divisions within the Pangua 339 

made in Waiaka where the genealogy shows that both lopia 
fda and io lopia are descended from a single ancestor Maino 
Amaa. This grouping will be made clear by the following 

[Fdangiau \^^^^!^^orloptaauz 
r, 1^0 aui 

Ekei (or this section may contain the io aui group). 

It is now possible to consider the actual building up of 
the Waiaka clan of Inawi village from its constituent ikupu. 
There are at the present day eight ikupu in Waiaka, of which 
five originate from a single ancestor, while the three remain- 
ing ikupti also spring from a common stock, and although 
they cannot give the name of their common ancestor they do 
not hesitate to assert their single origin and call themselves 

Seven generations ago, one Maino Amaa then living at 
loiovina had among his children three sons. Two of these 
sons, Amewa Kaiokuau and Opungu Kaiokuau, were among 
the first of their pangua to leave loiovina, crossing the river 
and settling between the present sites of Inawi and Inawae. 
Neither Amewa Kaiokuau nor Opunga Kaiokuau were fda 
chiefs, but first on the site of their settlement, and afterwards 
on the present Inawi site, their descendants increased until at 
the present day five ikupu trace their descent to Maino Amaa 
through Amewa and Opungu Kaiokuau. The war chieftain- 
ship was in the family of the descendants of Amewa Kaiokuau, 
but as already stated the high chieftainship was not, and did 
not come into the family until the then lopia fda was publicly 
put to shame at a feast by one of his wives and so made over 
his authority and its symbol, the lime ^owx A faonga used only 
by chiefs, to an ancestor of Opungu Ongopaina (the present 
lopia fda) descended from Amewa Kaiokuau. A descendant 
of the latter's brother Opungu Kaiokuau (whose most im- 
portant descendant at the present day is Keaeke Ifoilako) 
became war chief (io lopia). With the direct descendants of 
Alua Alu, the great grandson of the old fda chief who resigned 
his chieftainship, there is united a small collateral family, who 
together form an ikupu under the leadership of Ifongai Aiva 
the son of a brother of Alua Alu. Two other men from 
loiovina have also given rise to families at the present day 

22 — 2 


The Mekeo Tribes 

forming an ihipii having as leader Amewa Aivapala\ The 
ekei division of Waiaka forms a small iktipu under the leader- 
ship of Foeape Aape. 

The ihipu of Waiaka and Paiapaia /^^^^^^ of Inawi and 
their grouping is shown in the following table. The numbers 
and figures in brackets, thus (i b) refer to the headings in 
Father Egidi's genealogy and are used in the table of marriages 
given in chapter xxx. (Ngangai, Ongofoina Kipo, Okope, 
Ungo and Ipange are omitted since at Inawi they are each 
represented only by small and weak ikupu.) 

( Ikupu No. \ {\ a) consists of the descendants of 
Amewa Kaiokuau with Chief Opungu Ongo- 
paina, the lopiafda of Waiaka. 

Ikupu No. 2 (2 «, b) consists of the descendants of 
the old fda chief. Ifangai Aiva is head of this 

Ikupu No. 3 (2 tr, ^ consists of descendants of 
Oaia Pealapou and one other man, both from 
loiovina and has as head man Amewa Aiva- 
Fdangiau J y parla. 

^ Ikupu No. 4 {i b) descended from Opungu Kaio- 
kuau has as Chief Keaeke Ifoilako the io lopia 
of Waiaka. 

Ikupu No. 5 (i ^) descended from Opungu Kaio- 

Ikupu No. 6 (i ^) descended from Opungu Kaio- 

Ikupu No. 7 (i (?) descended from Opungu Kaio- 

Ekei The whole of this section forms ikupu No. 8 (17^ 

3 a) under the leadership of Foeape Aape. 

' Fdangiau auiy Ikupu No. \{\a^b) under the leadership of the lopiafda 

Ongongo Aiamaia. 
(/(C? <2wz, Ikupu No. 2 (2 <2, b). 
{Lopia aiii^ Ikupu No. 3 (3 a). 

[Lopia aui -{ 





The actual birth of an ikupu seems to take place somewhat 
as follows : 

As the parent ikupu becomes larger and stronger, parties 
are naturally formed in it, and groups consisting of families 
closely united by blood and marriage begin to cling together 
more and more, and to hold somewhat apart from the general 
life of the community. This goes on, and probably nothing is 
said until one day an Individual with somewhat more force of 

' The descendants of one of these men (Oaia Pealapou) or perhaps of both were 
known as hpia ejiga imoi which literally means 'children of the chief The exact 
significance of this term could not be determined in the present instance ; accord- 
ing to Father Egidi the expression is sometimes used to include all the ikupu of 
the lopia aui section oi 2i pangua. 


Divisions within the Pangua 341 

character and perhaps ambition than his neighbours, suggests 
building a ngove. In this he naturally seeks only the assist- 
ance of his relatives and friends. If the rest of the ikupu offers 
no strong objection, and if above all they can be assured 
that a feast will be given and that the thing will be managed 
decently according to Papuaslan standards, the split takes 
place. Inversely when an ikupu has for any reason become 
weakened and reduced In numbers it joins a nearly related 
ikupu, builds no ngove and Is for the time merged in its related 
ikupu, though probably ready enough to re-assert its in- 
dividuality when strong enough to do so. 

If the process of differentiation goes a stage further, the 
new ikupu after a shorter or longer period separates from the 
rest of the village and builds houses removed perhaps by only 
a few score yards from the parent stock, yet forming a new 
settlement, which, when It has given the necessary feasts will 
take a new name. If the new settlement distinguishes itself 
In war, or has among its members a recognized expert In 
sorcery i^faia lopia) the process of gaining recognition becomes 
specially easy. The village, as It would now call itself, would 
naturally seek to attract other families so as to strengthen 
Itself further. But the only families likely to be attracted to a 
new village are the remnants of old weakened clans whose 
names are on the verge of extinction already, or recent im- 
migrants from the hills. Such folk may really lose their 
autonomy in the new settlement, or after a time, during which 
they increase In number and importance, they may proclaim 
their limited Independence as new clans within the village. 
This explains how it Is that In so many of the Mekeo villages 
there are pangua often very little known, and therefore 
scarcely recognized outside the village, though very distinct 
to the villagers themselves. If a stranger were asked for the 
pangua of Aipiana (Alvea) he would almost certainly answer 
that there are but three, viz. : Alvea, Inawefae and MeaungI, 
or perhaps the last two would be confused and spoken of 
as Inawefae. As a matter of fact the group called Alvea by a 
stranger really includes \}ii^ pangua 02\2. Alvea and Apangoa; 
Inawefae Includes also the pangua Kuapengi and Inafokoa; 
and MeaungI includes several families from Amoamo, which In 
time may easily come to form a separate pangua. Naturally 
these mQ\\id.^A pangua — if the term is permissible — generally 
adopt ufu, iauafangai and sometimes the kangakanga of the 
people among whom they settled. 



In each clan there are or should be two chiefs ; these are 
called lopia f'da and io lopia in order of authority, and are the 
high chief and war chief respectively. The lopia f da corre^ 
sponds more or less closely to the ovia itsipana of the Roro- 
speaking tribes, as does the io lopia to the ovia awarina in the 
matter of war. The Mekeo folk say that there is also a class 
of chiefs {lopia) called faia lopia^ but these are really depart- 
mental 'experts' corresponding exactly to xh^ paiha ^experts' 
of the Roro-speaking tribes and like them exercising their 
powers not for gain but to give victory to the community. 
The division of many pangua Into two sections distinguished 
disfdangiau and ekeihdiS already been described on page 336, 
and the head-man or leader of the ekei section Is regarded as 
a chief and is officially given the title of lopia ekei. Although 
this title may be applied to the head-man of any strong or 
Important ikupu except that which possesses a lopia fda, its 
official use appears to be limited to the chief of the ekei section 
of a clan, in which sense only the following Information con- 
cerning the duties of the lopia ekei applies. His functions 
will be considered immediately with those of the lopia fda 
whose henchman he Is. Rarely, as In KuapengI pangua of 
Rarai village does an io lopia act as lopia ekei, but as might be 
expected, in many weak pangua no one Is regarded as an 
actual or potential lopia ekei. 

Again, in small or weak pangua, and these seem to occur 
especially in the Vee villages as well as In Immigrant clans, 
war chiefs are absent or the functions of fda chief and leader 
in war may be said to be united in the person of one man, 
thus in Kolomio pangua of Veifa village Amola Akalna was 
considered to be both fda and war chief Similarly Aame 
Aipa is considered as fda and war chief of Kalau pangua of 


Chief's lime gourd, faonga 

Chieftainship 343 

Veifa village and this man is also 2ifaia expert. The village 
of Inawae consisting of a single /^«^^^, viz. Inawae Ipiau has 
no war chief but joins other Biofa villages in warfare. 

The high chief or lopia fda of each clan has certain rights 
which he never deputes to his sub-chief the lopia ekei. The 
lopia faa takes precedence at all feasts given by his clan's 
ufuapie, his lopia ekei carrying and spreading for him the 
sheet of bread-fruit bast-cloth on which he sits when he 
reaches the ufu of the clan giving the feast. If he is ill and 
unable to fulfil any of his ceremonial duties, a substitute is 
chosen from his own family, his lopia ekei never acts for him. 
The lopia ekei receives gifts of food, especially of pork, which 
he passes on to his high chief He sits by his high chief, but 
apparently always on his left, and practically the lopia fda are 
the only prominent actors in the ceremonies connected with 
the ufuapie feasts, the lopia ekei being merely spectators 
and assistants. At big feasts each lopia fda carries with him 
the insignium of his rank, a special lime gourd called y*^^^^^, 
with which he produces an almost continuous rattling noise by 
working his lime spatula (transversely grooved for this pur- 
pose) up and down against the edge of its mouth. This 
gourd was described as larger than the ordinary lime gourd of 
the district. It was stated to be covered entirely with a dark 
wax which was studded with teeth of various animals and was 
kept carefully wrapped up in the ufu belonging to the lopia 
fda and was never brought out except on ceremonial occasions. 
Until a few months ago, when the specimen shown in Plate 
XLVII was found among some recent purchases of the 
Horniman Museum, I had never seen ^faonga and the above 
description was given me by Father Egidi to whom one was 
shown as a great and special favour. Mekeo chiefs also wear 
the lopia pao, the ornament called eaii rove by the Roro- 
speaking tribes and shown in figure 18 (p. 221). 

There is no doubt that among the Mekeo clans there was 
a feeling of affectionate consideration for their lopia fda and a 
ready recognition of the pre-eminence of the families to which 
these chiefs belonged, that in many cases may be fairly 
described by saying that the ikupu most nearly related to the 
lopia fda were intensely loyal to their chief This naturally 
fostered a sense of dignity, importance and responsibiHty on 
the part of the fda chief which is quite uncommon among 
Papuasians, and the circumstances (for an account of which I 

344 ^^^^ Mekeo Tribes 

am indebted to Father Egldi) which four generations ago led 
to the lopia fda of the Walaka clan resigning his chieftainship 
show how seriously chiefs took their ceremonial responsibilities. 
The chief referred to was taking a leading part in an Important 
ceremony in his ufu when it was accidentally discovered that 
his wife had secretly reserved a joint cut from a pig which 
should have been ceremonially presented to the guests of his 
pangtca. The chief held himself so shamed by this conduct 
that he not only resigned his position as lopia fda but left his 
village. In spite of this the nobility of his family is recognized 
at the present day and the name of the descendant (Ifangal 
Alva) of the old lopia fda who resigned his chieftainship Is often 
linked with that of the present chief (Lala Opu, son of Opu 
Ongopaina) on the occasions when the names of chiefs are 
ceremonially called from the ufu. 

In spite of the Influence and position which the strict 
observance of the hereditary descent of their office gives to 
the members of the families of chiefs, adoption is common 
among them, especially among chiefs of the smaller Immigrant 
clans. An adopted son Is treated In every way as if he were 
really the son of his adopted father, and thus when adopted 
by ^fda chief may succeed to the chieftainship. And since It 
Is not uncommon for the chief of dipangua to adopt the son of 
the leader of any immigrant group which joins the village, It 
comes about that the lopia fda Is sometimes not of the blood of 
the hereditary chiefs of the clan. Thus, as pointed out by Father 
Egidi, the chief of Ipange /^;^^^<^ (of Raral village) belongs 
by blood to ^x\<g2.'^M pangiia, and the chief of ImLW^fae pangua 
of Aipiana is really by blood a native of KuapQUge pangua. 

As at Roro the io lopia, the clan war chief, may have his own 
ufti whence, when his clan is thinking of carrying on war, he 
sends round panicles of areca nuts as an invitation to other 
war chiefs to join him. All who accept and chew his nuts 
must help him for he is now both commander-in-chief and an 
active combatant. Before actually joining battle, he usually 
invokes the name of his ufu. During the feasts and cere- 
monies which follow successful warfare the io lopia acts in 
every way as chief, receiving presents and in all matters taking 
the lead very much as the lopia fda does In civil affairs. The 
lopia fda would not as a rule take any part In a fight, unless 
the battle were the result of a surprise attack at night. In 
ordinary fights the lopia fda of either party could (like the 

Chieftainship 345 

ovia itsipana of the Roro-speaking tribes) stop hostilities by 
parading without arms between the combatant lines and 
shaking lime from his gourd. 

There may be more than one io lopia in a local group of a 
pangua, for both f'dangiau and ekei sections may have their 
io lopia, although this does not very often occur, for so long as 
the two sections remain more or less closely united a single io 
lopia suffices for both. It has already been mentioned that a 
new pangua usually establishes itself slowly, first the lopia 
ekei becomes the chief of the pangua [pangtia lopianga), who 
subsequently may become a lopia f da, and it is not until after 
the lopia fda has been officially recognized that an io lopia 
becomes possible. And since a big feast is needed for the 
public and official declaration of an io lopia there are many 
pangua who have a lopia fda but no io lopia. This dignity 
could only be assumed by a man who had killed an enemy, 
but it sometimes happened that an individual qualified by 
influence and courage for the post of io lopia was not able 
to give the necessary feast, and allowed himself to be super- 
seded perhaps by a member of his own family. At the 
present time Keaeke Ifoilako is by right the hereditary war 
chief of Waiaka pangua but one Kuangungu Ongongo be- 
longing to a different ikupu but of the same io aui section of 
ih^ pangua is generally called io lopia and would, it was said, 
assume the active duties of io lopia \i these were any longer 

Although the io lopia organized and led his men it was the 
magic of the faia expert that gave victory to his party and 
it was the faia expert, not the war chief, who medicined 
the warriors of his group of villages before fighting^ Only 
a few pangua possess a faia expert so that one with the 
requisite knowledge might, and generally did, act as faia 
chief for a number of pangua often spread over more than 
one settlement while simultaneously exercising the functions 
of a chief in his own pangua. Thus Ofe Lala of Velfa 
is lopia ekei of Alo Fopafoina (his pangua) and Fopafolna 
of Velfa as well as the faia expert of Ongofoina, Inawl, 
Fopafolna, Alofopafoina, Inafokoa and Kolomio pangua of 

1 Father Egidi writes that he has been unable to discover any times other than 
during war and the subsequent ceremonies by which a homicide was purified, 
during which the faia lopia exercised his special functions. This agrees well with 
what has already been said as to the correspondence of the paiha experts of the 
Roro-speaking tribes and \S\t.faia chiefs of Mekeo. 


46 The Mekeo Tribes 

Veifa as also of Alo Aivea, Ipange and Apangoa pangua 
of Alo Aivea, that is to say he ^^s faia expert for the whole 
village of Veifa and the smaller village of Alo Aivea. 

Part of the procedure of th.Q fata expert was described by 
Ofe Lala, who accompanied his words by a lively pantomime, 
as follows : Supposing a night, or rather an early morning, 
attack is to be made, the fata expert accompanies the attack- 
ing force on its march to the hostile village. When within 
a certain distance a halt is called and the expert spits upon 
a portion of the leafy axis of a plant called ofe {Dracaena 
sp.), and delivers an overhand blow with this, striking down- 
wards in the direction of the hostile village ; he then passes 
the ofe under his right leg and again strikes downwards. 
While performing this he murmurs spells in a low tone 
which should cause the enemy to sleep heavily. The march 
is resumed and when the attacking party is very near the 
village, that is to say when it is so near that a rush can 
be made, ih^ fata expert strikes the spears of the attacking 
party with his ofe. He crouches on the ground doubling 
the ofe under his belly and blocking his ears with his 
fingers, so causing the enemy to become deaf, and then as 
the rush is made each warrior jumps over the crouching 
faia lopia. 

In Mekeo I could hear of no inferior chiefs or hereditary 
office bearers comparable with the ovia akiva of the Roro and 
Paitana tribes and it seemed clear that the lopia f da, when he 
cut up a pig, would himself remove the fat in large slices, and 
that when a youth went through the ceremony qualifying him 
for his hereditary chieftainship an old chief advised him, and 
if need were, actually guided his hand while he ceremonially 
dismembered a pig. 

The offices of lopia f da and io lopia are strictly hereditary 
from parent to child or adopted child with the qualification in 
the old fighting days that no one who was not a successful 
warrior could be war chief It is not uncommon for a chief to 
pass over his elder children and transmit his office to one of his 
younger sons. The Oriropetana lopia f da is his father's third 
son, his elder brothers having been ignored in his favour, 
while the chief of Inafokoa pangua of Inawefae (now settled at 
Aipiana) has recently arranged that the eldest son born to his 
first wife shall be passed over in favour of a younger son born 
to his second wife. A woman may be lopia fda, indeed thisj 



is actually the case at the present day in the pangua Inawae 
Ipiau constituting the village Inawae. This woman, Inau 
Oaia, will transmit her office of fda chief to her children, but 
only if the latter are brought up at Inawae. It was stated 
that it was not very uncommon for children of noble families 
to assume their mother's pangua and that this mode of descent, 

Fig. ^■7>- Diagrammatic representation of a board on the house of the chief 
of Inawi with conventional rendering oi lopia pao. 

though unusual among commoners, was not strictly limited to 
the families of chiefs. 

It has already been stated that a lopia fda might, and 
generally did, ornament the if m oi \ns pangua with the carved 
designs which had descended to him with the chieftainship. As 
a rule there is nothing distinctive about a chiefs house, the house 

348 The Mekeo Tribes 

of the lopia fda of Inawi village is however an exception, for it 
is of an altogether unusual style Q.2}^^difaifanga, It is built in the 
form of a cross with limbs of equal length and a hanging plank 
called ipopi, resembling that found in some Roro and Paitana 
clubhouses, hangs from the front of the house. The carved side 
planks which still further increase its resemblance to a marea 
are called alipa ikanga. It was the exclusive hereditary right 
of one of the chiefs of Inafokoa to build houses of xho. faifanga 
type until the lopia fda of Inawi acquired an equal right by 
purchase from the Inafokoa chief and this right now descends 
in his family in the direct line. The carved planks are 
derived from Afai, whence the right to make and display 
them was acquired by purchase by one of the ancestors of the 
present chief, from the Afai family who owned them\ The 
leaf-like objects near the base of the swinging plank shown 
diagrammatically in figure 33 belong to a different class to the 
rest of the carving, being merely conventionalized representa- 
tions of the boar tusk ornament lopia pao which every Mekeo 
chief has the right to wear and display. 

^ The history of the origin of the carving is as follows : — 

An Afai woman who was planting taro looking down the hole made by her 
diggji^g stick, saw men carving boards in the manner of that now hanging from 
the chief's house ; she noted the fashion of these, and told her husband, who, under 
her direction, carved similar boards and exhibited them at feasts. It was said that 
the folk whom the woman saw carving the planks when she looked down the hole 
were non-human creatures called faifai. As already stated, this ornament is 
identical with that worn by Roro chiefs, an example of which is drawn in figure 18, 
and a carved conventional representation of which occurs on the main post of the 
Pinupaka marea. According to a Waima legend this ornament was invented 
by Bereina and 'stolen,' i.e. copied, by Mekeo folk who carved a representation of 
it in the ufu of Inawi, which act caused prolonged warfare between Bereina and 
Waima on the one side, and Mekeo on the other. 



Each pangua, or In some cases certain ikupu within the 
pangua, stand in a special relationship to certain oihtr pa^igua, 
or ikupu in one or more pangua. Each pangua or ikupu 
calls the pangua or ikupu with which it is thus linked its 
ufuapie, which, according to Father Egidi, signifies ' clubhouse 
of the other side of the village^' 

At the present day the function of the ufuapie Is to take a 
perfectly definite part in certain ceremonies, especially those 
connected with death and mourning, but no ekei group of an 
ikupu can be officially recognized as such, and therefore as 
partly autonomous, without the consent of its ufuapie publicly 
declared at a big feast held for this purpose. The public 
assent of the ufuapie is equally necessary when a n^^^ pangua 
comes into existence. 

Further, the ufuapie should assist in the building of an ufu 
though their assistance is by no means always sought, indeed 
it is often avoided when this is possible, for the ufuapie are 
likely to be exacting in their ideas as to the amount of feasting 
and entertainment that Is their due in return for their help. 

Although my information points to the whole of one 
pangua usually being ufuapie to one or more other pangua 
this is not invariably the case, for only certain ikupu in a 
pangua may belong to a given ufuapie group, and in these 
cases the line of division which determines the adhesion of 
certain ikupu to a given ufuapie group while other ikupu in 

1 Father Egidi suggests that the term ufuapie was originally applied in the old 
days when there were but x^o pangua '\n each tribe, and when these, e.g. Inawi and 
Inawae, may have occupied opposite sides of the village street. Perhaps this was 
the case at loiovina, in any case the folk living on one side of the village street 
still sometimes speak of their neighbours opposite as 'apse au' explained as 'those 
on the other side of the village street.' 

350 The Mekeo Tribes 

the same panpm belong to another ufuapie group, is that 
which spHts 2i.pangua mio fdangiau and ^/^<^V sections. 

Thus at Rarai, Ipange pangiia has amongst its ufuapie 
that division of Ngangai Ipangenga /^?^^2^^ which is of the 
lopia fiia, while hw^dj^w pangua has the same ufuapie with the 
exception that it has that portion of Ngangai Ipangenga 
which is of the lopia ek'ei. Again while both Paiapangua 
paugua and Wimmgi pangtca of Ififu village have among their 
ufuapie that division of Kuapengi pangua of Rarai village 
which is of the lopia ekei, that division of Kuapengi which is of 
the lopia f da is among the ufuapie not of F2iia.p3.ngua, pangua 
and Mimingi but of N ga.nga[fua. pangua of Rarai village. 

Something has already been said on page 337 concerning 
the part played by the ufuapie in the origin of ek'ei sections in 
established /^;/^^^ and the rise of n^^ pangua ^ but the origin 
of the iifuapie of new pangua, or of new sections within the 
pajigua, is so important that at the risk of some reiteration the 
matter must be described here at some length. 

As soon as an ikupti or pangua determines to assert its 
independence it chooses an ufuapie for itself, for nothing can 
be done until it has the consent of its ufuapie, in addition to 
which the consent of the pangua to which it is most closely 
related is also usually required. As a rule the ufuapie selected 
by the new unit is the same as that of xkv^ pangua from which 
it originated, but sometimes the new unit would seek its 
ufuapie partially or wholly a.mong pangua not ufuapie to the 
ikupu or pangua from which it sprang. An instance has 
already been cited, in the case of Kuapengi pangua of Rarai 
village of which the ek'ei section has its ufuapie in part different 
to that of Xho. fdangiau section of th^ pangua. 

Very often the ufuapie of the new unit are at any rate in 
part determined by the site on which it builds its houses, for if 
the new unit moves to a strange village it not unnaturally 
becomes one of the ufuapie of the clan or clans with whom it 
now comes into the closest relationship. How close this re- 
lationship may become is shown by the fact already referred to, 
that the new unit when weak may sometimes take the iaua- 
fangai, ufu and even kangakanga of its neighbours, while if a 
new unit moves away from its site of origin, it is in almost 
every case considered one with its nearest neighbours of old 
established strength and prestige, at least as far as external 
affairs are concerned. In any case the unit seeking inde- 

The Ufuapie 351 

pendence selects its ufuapie, whose part It is publicly to declare 
the new unit partially independent as an ekei section of a 
pangua or wholly independent as 2. pangua itself. This cere- 
monial is lengthy and extremely solemn. The new unit gives 
a big feast, the chiefs of all neighbouring villages come to the 
ufu in which this is made and the fda chiefs of the ufuapie 
present a lime gourd of the sort called faonga (cf. Plate 
XLVII) to the leader of the new unit and declare him a 
chief like themselves. 

It now becomes necessary to consider whether the units 
which together form an ufuapie group have as a rule a common 
iauafangai and whether a new unit in choosing its ufuapie 
narrows its selection on the one hand to those sharing with 
it a common iauafangai or on the other to groups having an 
iauafangai not the same as its own, or whether the iauafangai 
are ignored in selecting the ufuapie. At first sight it seems 
that the tables given on pages 269 to 272, with their immigrant 
stocks and bewildering variety of iauafangai — some of the 
latter admittedly of recent adoption — do not offer material of 
a sufficiently homogeneous nature to allow of this question 
being answered, indeed it is perhaps scarcely reasonable to 
expect to learn much from weak immigrant stocks forced by 
circumstances to adopt the habits of the people they settle 
among, and who would readily lose many of their old habits 
unprotected by outward ceremony. But if immigrant pangua 
be neglected and if it be remembered that pangua with 
common iauafangai have a common origin and together 
form a ngopu group, the matter resolves itself into the simpler 
problem of determining the relation existing between ufuapie 
groups and 7igopu groups. The first step in this direction 
must be to consider the historical evidence on the subject. 

As the result of inquiries made concerning the original 
Vee and Biofa settlements loiofaopo and loiovina it is certain 
that the sites of these were in the open country, on the left 
bank of the St Joseph River, somewhere between the present 
Oriropetana and Bebeo. My informants state that at this 
time both Biofa and Vee had but two ngopu groups, each 
of which was ufuapie to the other. The names of the 
Biofa ngopu groups were Inawi and Inawae, the Vee 7igopu 
groups were called Ngangai and Kuapengi, that is to say the 
ngopu groups now existing bear the same names as those 
in existence some 150 years ago when at the dawn of history 

352 The Mekeo Tribes 

in Mekeo the whole of the Mekeo population was gathered 
into two villages which, according to native lore, were by no 
means large. 

From this account it is clear that the natives hold that the 
original iifuapie groups were simply the inhabitants of single 
villages in each of which there were but two stocks {ngopu 
groups). It has been stated on page 321 that each stock had 
its own ia2tafa7igai and so people who were ufuapie to each 
other were necessarily of different stocks and had different 

If this conception be tested by comparison of the ufuapie 
of the V ^^ pa7tgua, it will be found on reference to the tables 
given on pages 269 to 272 (which form an almost complete list 
of the Vee pangua and their ufuapie for which I am indebted 
to Father Egidi) that if immigrant stocks be excluded, the con- 
ditions actually existing at Rarai are almost exactly those 
required by the hypothesis founded upon native history. 
Rarai, it will be remembered, is called Vee in the Mekeo 
tongue and is the most important of the Vee settlements. In 
the smaller villages matters have become more confused and 
a number oi pangua are ufuapie \.o pangua belonging both to 
their own and to foreign ngopu groups. But even here the 
agreement required by theory exists in some instances as in 
the case of Inawabui pangua which forms the whole of 
Inawabui Kaenga village, and Paiapangua pangua of Ififu 


In the first column are given the names of the pangua of 
each village, the second column gives the pangua which are 
ufuapie to each of these. lauafangai are italicised ; the capital 
letters in parentheses indicate the ngopu group to which each 
pangua belongs ; 

N. Ngangai ; K. Kuapenge ; Imm. Immigrant stock ; In. Inawae (Biofa). 


Kolomio (K) Ikoiko (N) ongoi 

lainnpa Ngangai (N) ongoi 

Kuapengi of Ikoiko (N) 07tgoi 

Kolomio (K) Ngangai Ipuaina (N) ongoi 

? imou 


Maunge (Imm.) 

Ngangai Ipuaina (N) 
ongoi^foe^ lainema 

Angapu (Imm.) 

Ngangai Ipangenga (N) 
ongoi^foe,, lainema 

Ipange (Imm.) 

Angafua or 
Inaungome (Imm.) 

Ofiko (N) 

Ikoiko (N) 

Kuapengi (K) 

Ngangaifua (N) 

The Ufuapie 

Ngangai Ipuaina (N) 
Kuapengi of lopia ekei (K) 

Kolomio (K) 
Maunge (Imm.) 
Kuapengi of Kolomio (K) 

Ipange (Imm.) 
Angapu (Imm.) 
Ikoiko (N) 
Angafua (Imm.) 

Ikoiko (N) 

Ngangai Ipangenga oi lopia f da (N) 

Ngangai Ipangenga (N) 

Ngangai Ipangenga (N) 

Kuapengi (K) 
Ipange (Imm.) 
Kolomio (K) 
Angapu (Imm.) 
Kuapengi of Kolomio (K) 
Maunge (Imm.) 

Ikoiko (N) 
Ngangaifua (N) 
Paiapangua (N) 
Maunge (Imm.) 
Ikoiko (N) 

Kuapengi {oi lopia f da) (K) 
Lolokanga (N) 
Amoamo (In.) 




? imou 



ongoi, foe^ 

ongoi, foBy 

ongoi, foe, 


? i?ndu 







Inaukiki Kipo (K) 

Inaukiki Kaenga (K) 

Paiapangua (N) 

Afanga (Imm.) 

Pangua Ifupaina (K) 


Langi Ifupaina (K) 

S. N. G. 

Pangua Ifupaina (K) 

Afanga (Imm.) 

Kuapengi oi lopia ekei (K) 
Kolomio (K) 

Inaukiki Kaenga (K) 
Langi ifupaina (K) 
Pangua ifupaina (K) 

Inaukiki Kipo (K) 
Afanga (Imm.) 

Kuapengi of lopia ekei (K) 
Afanga (Imm.) 











The Mekeo Tribes 

Lolokanga (N) 

Amaama (N) 


Inawabui Kipo (K) 
Inawabui Kaenga (K) 
Ngangaifua (N) 
Bebeo (N) 

As Lolokanga Koko 




Inawabui Kaenga (K) 


Amaama (N) 
Lolokanga (N) 
Bebeo (N) 


Inawabui (K) 

Inawae Angamea (In.) 


Inawae Angamea (In.) 
Inawaia Koko and Laina (K) 
Inafokoa (Imm.) 

Inafokoa (Imm.) 

Inawabui Kipo and Kaenga (K) 

Inawaia Koko and Laina (K) 




Bebeo (N) 

Fopa Onge (Imm.) 

Inaupako (N) 

Oaki (K) 


Oaki (of Bebeo) (K) 
Inawabui Kipo and Kaenga (K) 
Lolokanga (N) 
Amaama (N) 

? Oaki of Bebeo (K) 

Bebeo (N) 
Inaupako (N) 



The remaining villages are given for the sake of rendering 
this list as complete as possible, but they have little bearing 
on the point immediately under discussion, since they consist 
so largely of immigrant stocks. 

Eboa (Imm.) 

Inafokoa Faingunga 



Inafokoa Lapulapu 




Inawaia Koko and Inawaia Laina (K) ? 

Oaki !'of Yeku Baibua) (K) aikimo 

Inawabui Kipo and Inawabui Kaenga (K) fai 

Inawaia Koko and Inawaia Laina (K) 
Inawabui Kipo and Inawaia Kaenga (K) 

As Inafokoa Faingunga 


The Ufuapie 355 


Inawaia Koko (K) Oaki (of Yeku Baibua) (K) aikimo 

oolo Inafokoa (Imm.) lainapa 

Poloka (K) 

Oaki (K) Eboa (Imm.) lainapa 

aikimo Inawaia Koko (of Yeku Baibua) (K) oolo 

Inafokoa (Imm.) lainapa 


In this village there are four pangua, Inawaia Laina, 
Inawaia Koko, Ungokapia, and Apangaikoa. The first two 
are of Kuapenge ngopii group, the two last are immigrant 
stocks from the hilly district to the north-west of Mekeo 
known as Lapeka. All four pangua have the same ufuapie, 
the Lapeka stocks having adopted those of Inawaia which 
are : 

Inafokoa lapulapu (Imm.) lainapa 

Inawae Angamea (In.) vangama 

Eboa (Imm.) lainapa 

In the list of ufuapie of the clans of certain of the Biofa 
villages given on pages 357 and 358 in collecting which I 
received much help from Father Vitale, very much the same 
condition of things is found as among the Vee, but in the 
case of Inawi its fairly simple and well known history allows 
certain seeming discrepancies to be cleared away in a fashion 
not at present possible in the case of other villages. Nothing 
need be said concerning the ufuapie of the two weak immi- 
grant pangua Okope and Ungo which are not even of true 
Mekeo origin. Turning to the two most important pangua 
Waiaka and Paiapaia (of the Inawi ngopu group), whose 
members I estimate make up four-fifths of the village with a 
total population of about 450, it is evident that of the four 
pangua which are ufuapie to Waiaka — the strongest /^;i;^^^^ of 
the village — three belong to the Inawae ngopu group. It has 
already been stated that this ngopu group was ufuapie to the 
Inawi ngopu group in the first Biofa settlement at loiovina. 
The ioM'c^ pangua which is ufuapie with Waiaka is Inafokoa, 
a portion of the immigrant stock Eboa-Inafokoa. 

The next strongest pangua of Inawi village is Paiapaia. 
Of its three ufuapie two, Inawefae and Inawae Aungeko, 
belong to the Inawae ngopu group while the appearance of 
Ngangai pangua among its ufuapie is to be explained by 


356 The Mekeo Tribes 

the presence of a settlement of the Vee pangua Ngangai in 
Inawi villaee, i.e. this is a case of the kind alluded to on 
page 350, where it is stated that when a foreign stock enters a 
village it usually establishes the ufuapie relation with one of 
its nearest neighbours, both parties in these instances appear- 
ing to neglect their ngopu grouping. 

The third pangtia of Inawi village is the Vee pangua 
Ngangai and nothing further need be said concerning its 
connection with Paiapaia. It is also ufuapie with the two 
immigrant stocks Ungo apd Okope and its connection with 
Ongofoina Kipo will be immediately explained. 

The fourth pangua of Inawi is Ongofoina Kipo ; the 
history of the quarrels which gave rise to the formation of 
this tangua is given on page 338 where it is explained how 
this clan came to settle in Inawi village, and although the 
matter does not appear to have been specifically inquired into 
there seems no reason to doubt that its ufuapie relation with 
Paiapaia is to be explained as is the same relation between 
Ngangai and Paiapaia. The ufuapie relation exists between 
Ongofoina Kipo on the one hand and Oala Aivea and Alo 
Aivea on the other, all of the Inawi ngopu group, because 
Ongofoina of Veifa from which Ongofoina Kipo sprang is 
ufuapie with these pangua. The ufuapie relation was estab- 
lished with Ipange simply because the latter was a weak 
immigrant stock. 

The list of the ufuapie of the pangua of the large village 
of Veifa with its small dependent settlements of Alo Aivea 
and Alo Fopafoina conforms less obviously to the historical 
arrangement but even here if immigrant stocks be omitted 
there are as many ufuapie relations between /^//^2^<2; of different 
ngopu groups as between pangua of the same ngopu group. 
It may reasonably be suggested that the size and complexity 
of the village accounts for this, and probably if time and 
circumstances had allowed of a special study being made of 
the history of this village, as was done at Inawi, the apparent 
exceptions to the historic rule would be equally susceptible of 

In the small village of Amoamo the ufuapie of Amoamo 
pangua (the only noxi-\vcim\^x2SiX, pangua) of the Inawae ngopu 
group are 2^ pangua belonging to the Inawi ngopu group with 
the exception of Amoamo Inaukina, which is a foreign stock 
coming from a village on the upper waters of the Biaru River 
about a day's journey from the Mekeo plain. 

The Ufiiapie 



In the first column are given the names of xh^ pangua of 
each village, the second column gives the pangua which are 
ufuapie to each of these. 

lauafangai are italicised and the capital letters in 
parentheses indicate the ngopu group to which each pangua 

N. Ngangai ; K. Kuapenge ; Imm. Immigrant stock ; In. Inawae ; I. Inawi. 


V^aiaka (I) 

Inawae Ipiau (In.) 
Inawae Aungako (In.) 
Inawefae (In.) 

Inafokoa (of Aipiana) (Imm.) 

Paiapaia (I) 

Inawefae (In.) 
Ngangai (N) 
Inawae Aungako (In.) 
Ongofoina Kipo (I) 

Ngangai (N) 

Paiapaia (I) 
Ungo (Imm.) 
Okopi (Imm.) 

Ongofoina Kipo (I) 

Paiapaia (I) 
Oala Aivea (I) 
Alo Aivea (I) 
Ipange (Imm.) 

Okope (Imm.) 

Ngangai (N) 
Inawefae (In.) 

Ungo (Imm.) 

Ngangai (N) 

Ipange (of Alo Aivea) (Imm.) 

Paiapaia (I) 


Ongofoina (I) 

Alo Aivea (I) 
Oala Aivea (I) 
Inawefae (In.) 
Kalau (Imm.) 

Amoamo (In.) 

Inawi (I) 

Fopafoina (I) 
Inafokoa (Imm.) 
Meaunge (Imm.) 

Fopafoina (I) 

Amoamo (In.) 
Inafokoa (Imm.) 

Inawi (I) 








ongoi (by adoption) 


angava piki 



ongoi (by adoption) 





The Mekeo Tribes 

Inafokoa (I mm.) 

Kolomio (K) 

Kalau (Imm.) 
angava piki 

Meaunge (Imm.) 
ongoi (by adoption) 

Amoamo (In.) 

Fopafoina (I) 
Inawi (I) 
Alo Aivea (I) 
Oala Aivea (I) 

IMeaunge (of Aivea) (Imm.) 
Ipange (of Alo Aivea) (Imm.) 
Meaunge of Ongofoina (Imm.) 

Ongofoina (I) 

Ipange (of Alo Aivea) (Imm.) 

Ipange (of Oala Aivea) (Imm.) 

Inawi (I) 
Oala Aivea (I) 
Kolomio (K) 


Fopafoina (I) 
Ongofoina (I) 
Onginofeka (I) 
Amoamo Inaukina (Imm.) 





ongoi (by adoption) 

ongoi „ 


ongoi „ 



ongoi „ 


ongoi „ 







As has been seen the ufuapie group is composed usually 
of two or movQ pangua, but in almost every case each pangua 
considers one pangua, or section within the pangua as its 
principal tcfuapie although still recognizing the right of the 
other pangua to the title. For example, the ufuapie of 
the f'dangiau section of Waiaka is formed of three pangua, 
Inawefae (with which must be reckoned as forming a single 
pangua for external affairs Kuapengi and Inafokoa of 
Aipiana), Inawae Ipuko and Inawae Ipiau. The last is 
specially considered the ufuapie of the section of the io lopia 
(war chief) while the two first are respectively considered the 
ufuapie of certain ikupu of the section belonging to the lopia 
aui section. The ekei section of Waiaka appears to have as 
ufuapie only the people of Inawae Ipuko. 


Before considering these it is necessary to point out that 
when a woman marries she goes to live in her husband's 
village, and that when she dies she is carried back to her own 
village by her kin, who come and fetch her body. Her 
husband's village mourns only until her body is removed to 
her own village, where all subsequent ceremonies take place, 
and where such ceremonial taboos as abstinence from dancing 

The Ufuapie and Mourning Cerefnonies 359 

are enforced, and where mourning affects not only the dead 
woman's clan but all the clans of the village. 

At the ceremony at which mourning is put away, the chief 
of the ufuapie group comes to the village of the deceased in 
order to remove ceremonially the waist belts as well as the 
armlets and leglets worn by the relatives of the deceased. 
This chief also frees the relatives of the deceased from certain 
food taboos which they have imposed on themselves as part 
of their mourning. To effect this he takes in his hand some 
portion of the particular food of which each individual has 
deprived himself and, waving it round the mourner's head, 
says something to the following effect : ' On account of the 
death of your brother you have deprived yourself of tobacco... 
now I, chief of the ufuapie, tell you to use it as was your 
custom, without fear that others will cry shame on you for 
doing so.' Later, domestic pigs must be killed and a feast 
made for the men of the ufuapie for then only may dancing 
take place in the village of the deceaseds Often a village 
prefers not to kill the majority of its pigs, and then gives only 
wild pigs to the ufuapie, in this case dancing with drums 
may not take place but dances accompanied by chants are 
allowed. The pangua of the ufuapie usually send a number 
of their women to sing dirges at the funeral ; these women do 
not carry away the food given them on this occasion by the 
pangua of the deceased, for it is the custom that the people 
of the pangua to which the deceased belonged should carry 
their presents of food to the villages of their ufuapie. It 
appeared that the chief of any of the clans that are ufuapie 
to the deceased could perform the ceremony which ended the 
period of mourning, but that when a number of ufuapie chiefs 
are present, the chief of that ufuapie clan which has been 
longest or most closely connected with the section of the clan 
to which the deceased belonged acts as master of the cere- 

The following account of the behaviour of the ufuapie at 
the great feast at which mourning is put away from a village 
is summarised from a paper [Missions Catholiques, 1898) by 
the Rev. Father Guis of the Sacred Heart Mission. 

When everything is ready for the feast, and a sufficient 

1 Village is here used in its European sense and so implies the whole com- 
munity of a village site belonging to many clans, thus a death occurring in 
Paiapaia/a;?^?^a would stop all dancing in Inawi village. 

360 The Mekeo Tribes 

number of pigs have been fattened and the gardens planted 
specially for the occasion are bearing well, the men of the 
village that is in mourning go hunting, and do not return until 
they have killed much game. Then invitations are issued by 
means of messengers bearing a bunch of areca nuts who are 
sent in all directions. A large number of people from the 
neighbouring villages are invited to the feast as a matter of 
courtesy, but strictly speaking the ufuapie are alone entitled to 
an invitation. The ceremony cannot begin before the men of 
the ufiiapie have arrived, and these will often delay until they 
have received sufficient inducement in the way of presents. 

The chiefs of the ufuapie solemnly leave their ufu chewing 
areca nut, and from time to time making a rattling noise by 
rubbing iheir lime spatulae against the neck of their lime 
gourds. This produces a loud clicking noise, which is a 
warning to keep the track clear. The chiefs of the ufuapie 
then make a move towards the village whither they are bound 
but usually stop after a few steps, and rattle their spatulae on 
their gourds pretending to be too tired to go on. They are 
immediately given a present of food and begged to forget their 
fatigue and to remember only the sorrow of the village to which 
they are bringing relief When they have received sufficient 
presents they proceed on their way. They are thus 'refreshed ' 
two or three times every hour until they reach the outlying 
coconut trees of the village that is in mourning. Then a 
number of men of the ufuapie who have painted themselves 
for dancing form a compact mass. They are all decked in their 
best, some wearing the great feather headdresses which are 
their kangakanga. Each dancer holds a drum in his left hand, 
on a level with his eyes. At a signal from the leader of the 
dance they beat their drums, then follows a few seconds of 
silence, then again beating their drums they advance into the 
village amidst the shouting of the villagers, 

At this the family of the deceased try to stop the dance, 
saying to the performers, ' It is well that you have come at 
last to take away the *'cold" from our village but do not dance, 
the noise of your drums still makes us feel sad.' But the 
dancing continues in spite of the remonstrances of the widow 
and near relations of the deceased, who, pretending to get 
'^"^^Yj feign to attack the dancers and even threaten them 
with glowing embers. This, too, produces no result and after 
a while the mourners are appeased, for if the pretence of 

The Ufuapie and Mourning Ceremonies 361 

sorrow were kept up too long the dancers might really retire, 
in which case fresh presents would have to be given them for 
their services. 

Dancing proceeds all night and on the next day when the 
dancing stops for a while the performers are each presented 
with a big cake of sago, rolled in a ball and boiled, which is 
called ketsiketsi. Although considered a choice morsel the 
dancers may not eat it themselves, but must share it among 
such of their kinsfolk as have lent them feathers and ornaments 
to make up their headdresses, for the great kangakanga worn 
on such occasions are usually far beyond the means of a single 
man, and are really a collection of feathers and other valuables 
lent for the occasion. 

When the ketsiketsi have been distributed, the dancers 
with the kangakanga headdresses rest, while men wearing the 
smaller ordinary headdresses dance. These men continue to 
dance until the chief of the, pangtm giving the feast asks them 
to rest and offers them areca nut. All this time the women 
and girls are very busy cooking vegetable food and pigs are 
being killed. 

In the open space in the centre of the village a structure 
called kou has been built. This is made of two or more 
big bamboos planted in the ground from which the 
small branches bearing the leaves have been cut off a 
few inches from the main axis, so that the short pieces left 
attached form hooks from which all sorts of food including fish 
and joints of meat are hung. 

The whole of this day is given up to the preparation of 
the feast, but late in the evening the village resounds with the 
clicking of lime spatulae on the necks of lime gourds when 
suddenly the crowd becomes perfectly quiet. The chiefs of 
the ufuapie, who are often quite old men, come out of the ufu 
decked with priceless ornaments. They are even graver and 
more dignified than when they arrived, and it takes them 
several minutes to walk the few paces to the kou where they 
stand motionless amidst the respectful silence of the crowd. 
The chief who is giving the feast comes forward laden with 
the limb of a pig and places it at their feet and then brings 
slabs of pigs' fat and other presents for them. Then he 
makes a speech which varies little on such occasions. 
Addressing the visiting chiefs by name he says or rather 
intones: 'Oh, oh — h — h — have come and we are filled 

362 The Mekeo Tribes 

with joy, you have come and our village is once more ** warm." 
We were "cold," but now you have come we are ''warm.'' 
Take then our vegetables and our pigs, for we have fished, 
hunted and worked for you. We know that our bananas are 
poor, our taro watery, our yams fibrous, our sugarcane hard, 
our coconuts old and dry, our pigs small and thin, and we 
have killed but few wallaby. All this we know and are 
ashamed, but pity us rather than be angry with us, since we 
are poor and like little children. Deign to eat our food 
though your teeth ache and your hunger be not satisfied.' 

The chief, who speaks for the rest of the ufuapie, replies 
condescendingly: 'The vegetables are bad, the game is poor 
and there is not much of it, still you cannot give more than 
you have, but remember that a few months back we — the 
tifuapie — gave twenty pigs and you must not forget to return 
as many, when you can.' 

After this the period of mourning is ceremonially ended. 
All the relations, connections and friends of the deceased who 
have abstained from some form of food ' in honour ' or * in 
memory ' of the deceased, arrange themselves in a semi-circle 
near the kou, each holding the food from which they have 
abstained during the period of mourning. Supposing a woman 
has died, the widower may hold a pipe and a few bananas 
of the kind called warupi. The chief of the uftiapie takes the 
pipe, lights it, and swinging it two or three times round the 
head of the widower, intones: 

' Because your wife died, you put your pipe aside and did 
not smoke, from now your mourning is over and you may 
smoke again. Ho! ho — o — o — .' 

The widower replies ' Now I smoke again,' and inhales 
smoke from the pipe which the chief presents to him. 

' Because your wife died, you have not eaten bananas, that 
is two things you abstained from. Ho! ho — o — o — .' 

The chief then swings the bananas twice round the 
widower's head and stuffs one of them into his mouth, after 
which the chief opens an areca nut and gives it to the 

But this is not all ; the chief removes the widower's 
mourning, ornaments, his bracelets, collars, leg-ornaments 
and belts. When he has relieved him of his mourning gear 
the chief of the uftiapie group places upon him the ornaments 
which constitute the ordinary full dress of a Mekeo man. 

The Ufuapte and Marriage 363 

* Henceforth,' the chief says to him, 'you may again wear 
a mahawa (string bag) like other men. Ho ! ho — o — o — ,' and 
he hangs the mahawa on his shoulder. * Henceforth, you may 
wear a mairi (crescentic pearl shell ornament) on your chest. 
Ho! ho — o — o — ,' and he puts the mairi round his neck. 
* Henceforth, you may carry and use your lime gourd. 
Ho ! ho — o — o — ,' and he gives it to him. 

' Henceforth, you may let your hair grow. Ho ! ho — o — o — ,' 
and he removes the cap worn by the widower. 


The effect, if any, on the regulation of marriage exercised 
by the ufuapie must now be considered \ In discussing this 
matter with natives of Mekeo the impression left on my mind 
was that it was considered better to marry within the ufuapie 
group, though this was not necessary. Dr Strong inde- 
pendently arrived at the same conclusion, and Father Guis 
in his account published in 1898 also takes this view, indeed 
he goes so far as to say that ' the young men of a village may 
only marry the girls of their allied village... (...ufuapie, auai at 
Mekeo).... By these words is understood... a village that in 
every contingency and under all circumstances acts with 
another [en tout et pour tout est de moitie avec une autre]. 
For example the folk of Beipaa [Veifa] feed pigs and bring 
up dogs but these pigs and dogs are not for them, they are for 
the village of Amoamo, their ufuapie, and in return the pigs 
and dogs of Amoamo come to Beipaa. When a death occurs 
at Beipaa a tazu [feast] is given which is eaten by the folk of 

^ As among the Roro (cf. chapter xxii) two forms of marriage are recognized : 
(i) elopement, 'marriage by robbery,' the young couple disappearing for a few days 
while informal negotiations take place between their families, and (ii) 'marriage by 
contract,' the bride-price being settled after more or less prolonged haggling. 
Father Egidi states that the bride price is provided by contributions from both the 
paternal and maternal relatives of the bridegroom and though the bride's clansmen 
(i.e. her father's relatives) take the greater part of this, some is given to her 
mother's relatives. The mock pillage which follows the marriage affects the 
gardens of the local groups of both the bridegroom's parents. 

Traditions of an older form of marriage by capture still linger, for according to 
Father Egidi there are both among the Biofa and the Vee stories in which a young 
man who surprises a girl while bathing and without her petticoat exercises his 
right to make her his wife. In the stories the marriage is consummated on the 
spot after which the young man himself fastens the girl's petticoat. Although 
the right to obtain a wife in this manner no longer exists, I believe that the 
fastening of the girl's petticoat by her husband still has a place in the Mekeo 
marriage customs. 

364 The Mekeo Tribes 

Amoamo, and when one of the latter dies the reverse takes 
place. When the period of mourning is to be ended the 
ufuapie are invited to come and dance ; the group comes, 
dances, eats, performs certain other ceremonies and the 
period of mourning is ended. The same condition holds in 
the matter of marriage ; the girls of a village, according to the 
accepted rule, should not marry any others than the men of 
the ufuapie. This rule is only broken in the event of elope- 
ment or when the girl's parents are too greedy in the matter 
of the bride-price/ Father Guis is certainly in error when he 
speaks of the uftiapie group as though it were identical with a 
village ; further, I could not discover the existence of any 
special arrangement, such as is described above, by which 
members of an ufuapie group living in different villages bring 
up pigs and dogs for each other\ 

As regards the question of marriage within the ufuapie 
Father Egidi's genealogy of Inawi shows that not only are 
these marriages not predominant, but that they occur to only 
a slight extent. Although it was agreed that in each of the 
original settlements of loiovina and loiofaopo the original 
figopu groups were at the same time the two pangua of the 
village, and also the two exogamous ufuapie groups (for then, 
as now, no one could marry within the pangua), it does not 
appear that this was due to any actual objection at that 
time to the marriage of individuals with the same iauafangai. 
The earliest marriages of which Father Egidi was able to 
obtain records were unions in which couples with the same 
or different iauafangai married indiscriminately. At the 
present day the same condition prevails and marriage, though 
not sexual intercourse, is forbidden between members of the 
same pangua. As regards this Father Egidi points out that 
no objection is made to a member of the pangua to which a 
girl belongs having access to her, whereas the girl's parents 
see that no boy of another pangua, whether belonging to the 

^ As a matter of fact no ikupu will eat the pigs of its own rearing, and an ikupu 
giving a feast distributes the meat entirely to its guests. It seemed that it was 
only when the ikupu or pangua giving the feast could not provide a sufficient 
supply of pork that they accepted the pigs of other communities for which, on 
account of their urgent need, they were compelled to pay an unduly high price. 
Of course the folk who take charge of a man's young pigs are often his relations, 
such as daughters who have married, and in this way no doubt in individual 
instances pigs are kept and fed by members of the ufuapie group, but it did not 
appear that it was a general custom. 












.. I . 

3 14 













id ^ 












> i 














7 . 




3 i I 

19 I 19 21 I I 19 9 





















i + i 



18+ I 

i 2 

4 16 



















6 2 


N. W. Thomas from r to marriages recorded more than once in the table. 



















































































































































































■ 7 






































































i + i 













s 1 










- 1 


Waiaka i .' 

" ;"'</ """'. 

Waiaka i b 

„ I c 

„ irf 












































Waiaka 3 n 

„ 1 / 

Paiapaia t a 



... 1 ... 






Paiapaia 2 n, b 


Ngangai a 

„ b 


Ongofoina Kipo a 

„ „ „ b 
















4 25 

■ 7 




2 2 









Table showmj; mairuigLS of llie clans of In.ivvi viU.igc. I'repaied by Mr N. W. Thomas from Father Egidi's genealogies, which go back for seven generations (cf. p. 339). The numbers printed in thick type refer to marriages rcrorded 

The Ufuapie and Marriage 365 

ufuapie group or not, has the opportunity of making off with 
the girl without paying the bride-price. The Hberty allowed 
within ih^pangua is simply due to the knowledge that marriage 
within t]\& pangua cannot take place, so that when expostulated 
with for the license allowed to a girl the answer may be : 
Avakuai fou ke opua, moe faungina, that is, ' they are but 
brethren and amuse each other, they do no harm so why 
interfere ? ' 

In spite of the statement that no one marries within the 
pangua, Father Egidi's genealogies show that to a limited 
extent the members of large clans such as Waiaka, have 
contracted endogamous marriages. The figures given in the 
table indicate that such marriages were never frequent and 
the genealogies show that no cases have occurred recently. 




It is now possible to summarise the past history of Mekeo 
and the social organization of its people. Each of the two 
tribes, the Biofa and Vee, which (ignoring for the moment 
immigrant groups) together form Mekeo, originally consisted 
of X.v^o pangua (clans) whose tauafangai yj^y^ trees. These, 
namely ongoi, the breadfruit tree, and a palm called t7ndu, 
were in each tribe assigned to one of its pangua which 
stood in the reciprocal relation of ufuapie to the other pangua 
of the tribe. Since in both tribes marriage is not, and never 
was, allowed within the pangua, the original ufuapie groups 
were intermarrying groups, but this does not seem to have 
been due to any conscious desire to avoid marriage between 
individuals having the same iauafangai, for in the past as 
at the present day the only bar to marriage was identity of 
payigua or near blood relationship. Nothing could be learnt 
concerning the kangakanga of the two primitive pangua of 
either the Biofa or Vee. 

Each tribe occupied a village situated in the open country 
to the east of the St Joseph River, between the present sites of 
Oriropetana and Bebeo, the Biofa settlement was called 
loiovina, that of the Vee loiofaopo. These centres must have 
been near each other, for in a story recorded by Father Egidi, 
a youth of one of these villages, by blocking the track, com- 
pelled two girls, returning from collecting firewood, to ac- 
company him to his village after which he escorted them to 
theirs. Each pangua had a chief, lopia fda, whose office 
is, and was, strictly hereditary, and who was especially 
responsible for the upkeep of the clubhouse {ufu) of the 
pangua, and represented xhe pangua officially in all important 

The History of Mekeo 367 

ceremonies, which appear always to have centred round the 
clubhouse. There was an early differentiation of the functions 
of chiefs and perhaps this was as complete when the Mekeo 
tribes were first heard of at loiofaopo and loiovina as it is at the 
present day. This led to the existence of war chiefs, io lopia, 
and of another class of chief, the lopia ekei, who, officially, 
was but the assistant of the high chief on ceremonial occasions, 
though as the community increased in size the lopia ekei often 
became the de facto head of a group of families, and as such 
might exercise considerable influence. Often the war chief had 
an ufu of his own ; this, though early, is probably not a 
primitive feature, for an instance still exists in which the left 
side of the ufu which the war chief shares with ]\\s fda chief, 
is assigned to the former. Whether the existence of the 
second tfu dates from an early period or not, there is little 
doubt that this tfu was generally called by the same name as 
the ifu of the_/^^ chief, in spite of the tendency on the part of 
war chiefs to commemorate their deeds by giving their ufu a 
new name. Besides the ufu of the fda, war, and perhaps (in 
more modern times) the ekei chiefs, there were ufu especially set 
apart for the preparation and celebration by ih^faia experts 
(faia lopia) of the magical aspects of warfare. The magic of 
these men, who it appeared were always chiefs, either y"^<2, war, 
or ekei, gave victory to the community, and must not be 
confused with the art of sorcery, which appears always to have 
exerted a considerable influence on these tribes. 

The original ^\oi^ pangua were Inawi and Inawae, those 
of the Vee tribe being Ngangai and Kuapengi. There is no 
evidence to show whether the term ngopu, now applied to 
pangua of common descent, was in use in the early days; there 
is no obvious reason why it should have been, but as new 
groups were formed within the pangua and then thrown off, 
the term was applied to the original {our pangua, their names 
becoming the names of ngopu groups oi pangua, i.e. oi pangua 
tracing their common descent from one of the original stocks 
the ramifications of which are shown diagrammatically in the 
scheme on page 328. There is, and apparently always has been, 
a centrifugal tendency which, with the absence of a central 
dominating authority, has permitted the formation of a large 
number of pangua by fission from the parent stock. These, 
though retaining the iauafangai and often the tfu name of the 
t>angua from which they have sprung, have taken new kanga- 

368 The Mekeo Tribes 

kanga (clan badges) and have in some cases given new names 
to their clubhouses so that at the present day in Mekeo there 
are a number of clans or local groups, each possessing one or 
more clubhouses though belonging to a single ngopu group. 
The names of the clubhouses of all the clans forming each 
ngopti group should be the same, but in practice this rule is 
observed to a limited extent only. The pangua of each 
7icropu group have, generally speaking, retained their old 
iauafangai, but have taken kangakanga as they wished without 
reference to ngopu group or ufuapie group, the latter relation- 
ship at the present day retaining none of the importance 
which it once had — whether purposely or accidentally — in the 
regulation of marriage, though still of importance in mourning 
rites and in the ceremonial which accompanies the official 
recognition of a n^ys pangua or ekei group within ih^ pangua. 

Besides loiofaopo and loiovina, the historical centres of 
origin of the Biofa and Vee clans now distributed throughout 
Mekeo, Father Egidi recognizes certain definite centres of 
orio-in of the immigrant stocks now settled in the Mekeo 
villages. These are : 

(i) Vaingu, in the neighbourhood of Lapeka whence 
sprang Eboa and I na.(oko3. pangua of Eboa village; 

(ii) A centre near Amoamo Inaukina on the Biaru River 
here called the Maakunga. The people of this stock con- 
stitute the immigrants known as Ipange, perhaps originally 
the name of a ngopu group or possibly a tribal name. The 
Ipange immigrants seem to include families from three once 
populous villages on the Maakunga. These villages were : 

Malepa, of which the remains constitute Meaungi of 
Aipiana and Kalau of Veifa. 

Ungofaa, now represented by the single weak clan Ungo 
of Inawi. 

Ipange, the origin of the Ipange and Apangoa pangua 
which are now found throughout Mekeo. Perhaps Inaungome, 
Angapu and Angafua pangua of Rarai village are derived 
from this stock. 

Clans, Clubhouses and Clan-Badges 369 


Pangua the names of which are printed in italics are of more or less recent 
immigrant origin. Ufu names in brackets are the former names of the ufu. 


Village Pangua 











Famua (Kapoc 
tree), aukina, 
of feather work) 





Famua, aukina 



Foe ('White 


Mengunge (a 
feather head- 
dress), aulaa 
(a feather head- 
dress), oolo 


Kipo Ongo- 




Oolo, ikuo 


foame (a plant) 




Famua, aukina, 


ga ngua (a 
two headed 
palm of the 
species call- 
ed imou) 


Famua, aukina, 



no ufu 



Gala Aivea 




Ekei ufu^ 

lo ufu, Mai- 

Kefe (turtle shell 
Auau (Conus 





Kefe, Auau 






Koikoi (a palm) 



Imou an- 


(? ) 






^ Originally lived with Kalau in the bush and were brought here by Ongofoina (whose 
iauafangai and kangakanga they have adopted). Kalau is now settled at Veifa. 

S. N. G. 



The Mekeo Tribes 









(Foyo, a 






Funguka (a 




















Oolo, ikuo, foame 
(a plant) 










Eenge (cockatoo) 

Alo Fopa- 








Foyo (a 

Pongu (wallaby) 





Ikango a tree) 


(a bird) 



Brought here from bush by Fopafoina whose 

ufu and kat 

ngakanga they have adopted 

Alo Aivea 

Alo Aivea 




Kefe, auau 




Kefe, auau 

Doubtless iauafangai^ ufu and kangakanga 

have been i 

idopted from Alo Aivea 


Lainema (a 


Angava piki 

water bird) 

by adop- 

(a bird) 






famua, ungaa 
(goura pigeon) 





Kefe, mengunge, 















? Famua 















Funguka (a 




? Oolo 



Clans, Clubhouses and Clan-Badges 371 











Fai (a tree) 

Langina (N. 

Aukina, iapo, ko- 


W. wind) 

ko (a legumin- 
ous plant) 





Aulaa, oolo 






Mengunge, oolo 



Fopa (? a 
stone or 


Iapo, eenge 





Lainapa (horn- 


bill), enge- 
(a tree) 



Imou anganga 





Lainapa, enge- 






Koko (a 

Foyo (a 

Aulaa, eenge, 

plant be- 



longing to 

the Legu- 




Eleya (a 

Poo (? a tree- 




Feina (a 


Mengunge, oolo 


? Opino (a 





(a tree) 


Opo, pingu (a 



(a tree) 



Fopa Onge 











? Imou 


Imou anganga 

of Kolomio 




Foyo (a 






Mengunge, kefe, 




A ngapu 











(a constric- 
tor snake) 


Imou anganga 

24 — 2 


The Mekeo Tribes 










Upu (the crest of 


(a tree) 

the cockatoo) 












Mengunge, kefe, 



(a constric- 
tor snake) 


Imou anganga 






Mengunge, kefe, 








Pongo, pinupinu. 






Pongo, pinupinu, 













Aulaa oolo 









Yeku Bai- 





Oolo, opo 







Oolo, opo 





Opo, pingu 






lo ufu^ Agni- 














POKAO or Nara is the name given to a small district lying east 
of Roro and Mekeo. The coast is bordered by a narrow mangrove 
fringe and is uninhabited, the villages being situated in the pleasant 
open uplands which lie behind the coastal zone. This country, though 
far less fertile than the valley of the St Joseph River, swarms with 
game, and formerly Pokao and Roro carried on a lively exchange 
of smoked wallaby flesh for coconuts and other garden produce. 

The social organization of the Pokao villages resembles that of the 
Koita. The inhabitants of Pokao are, however, specially interesting 
on account of the number of individuals with wavy or almost straight 
hair that are found among them. Reference has already been made to 
this in the Introduction (page 2), and Plate I represents a woman 
with wavy hair of Oroi (Nara) village. 

The Pokao villages are: — Oroi (Nara), Alaala, Diumana, Bokama, 
Tubu, Lalime, Vanuamae. These with Epa speak a dialect generally 
known as Pokao, but it appeared that Epa did not intermarry with the 
other villages and it was even stated that a generation ago Vanuamae 
joined Epa and Inawabui, a village of Mekeo, and fought Oroi and 
Alaala and perhaps other of the Nara villages. Characteristic of the 
Nara villages are the houses, oval in section from the roof to the floor 
and opening on to a verandah, the latter being often common to 
several houses. 

I am indebted to the Rev. H. M. Dauncey for the following history 
of Nara, or Pokao as the district is sometimes called. 

'In the old times all the Nara people lived in one village away 
towards Vanuamae called Vanuaboada. There were too many people 
for the immediate neighbourhood to support, so at the suggestion 
of Ova Vala they split up into separate smaller villages. Some of the 
idubu .seemed to have moved from place to place, and become reduced 
in strength by fighting with Epa, Mekeo and Kabadi, till Nemi Oroi 
(the father of Kaloka) gathered a lot of them together and persuaded 
them to unite under him, and try to hold their own. The present 
people do not seem quite sure how many uiubiL joined, but the three 
most important idubu were Siagauna who came from Guguba 
inland of Geabada, Babu who came from near the present site 
of Oroi, and Oroi who came from Unuma near the same place. 
Of Siagauna idicbu only one man is now alive ; of Babu only 
two. Nemi Oroi of the Oroi idubu was the head of the village, and 

374 Note on Pokao 

Ume Kame of Babu idubu (who died only a short time ago) was the 
second in command. They had but one big clubhouse, on the site of 
the previous one, built after the pattern of the ruined one at Diumana. 
It was called Ivamuru, and Naimi Oroi was the head man in it.... 
Kaloka (a woman) is the head of the village now, but on all ceremonial 
occasions her place is taken, not by her husband, but by her son 
Naime. At a feast he and Ume Kama (son of Ume Kama the old 
leader of the Babu idiibii) kill the first two pigs, and make the first cut 
in them. Then all take part in the killing but the distribution is 
made by Oa Idoa and Taba Oa, both of the Oroi idubu! 

As regards the external relations of the Nara villages there was no 
doubt of their old standing friendship with the Koita, a party of whom 
at one time settled in their district, and who appear to still claim 
an unexercised right to a portion of the Nara territory. There is also 
an old and really intimate friendship with Waima, and a considerable 
trade with the people of Delena who bring pots to Nara and receive 
in return yams, bananas and tobacco. 

At the present time there appear to be no clubhouses in the Nara 
territory, their place being taken by lightly built open platforms, 
roofed in above but open upon all four sides. No attempt is made to 
carve the posts, which are generally no stouter than house piles, and 
the only ornamentation common is the weaving under the eaves of the 
roof of a series of diamond shaped ornaments of the kind shown in 
figure 27. 

One of the old clubhouses {Joe) of this district survived until 
recently at Diumana, where the remains of its carved posts are still to 
be seen, though partially destroyed by the fire which burnt the loe. 
The posts of this clubhouse were carved by Poa Oa of Waima, or under 
his direction (cf p. 247). The photograph given in Plate XLVIII, 
for permission to reproduce which I am indebted to the Rev. H. M. 
Dauncey, shows that the loe in general aspect resembled the marea of 
the Roro-speaking tribes, and like these was decorated with boards 
carved in low relief, but lacked the front platform and the closed- 
in back compartment of the marea. 

The terminals of the massive side posts which bear the greater 
part of the weight and which support the roof were carved into the 
shape of a human head, and each post had upon it a conventional 
carving of a crocodiled 

Judging from the position of the posts still standing and informa- 
tion obtained on the spot, the floor of the loe, some sixteen yards long 
by five broad, must have stood about /our feet off the ground. The 
ridge pole was at least thirty feet above the floor and, as at Waima, 
there was an overhanging projection of the front of the roof beneath 
which were attached carved and painted boards. Three of the 
carved lateral posts which support the greater part of the weight of 
the roof upon the right side of the loe are still standing, their tops 

* A photograph by Mr Dauncey of one of these posts is reproduced in 
Plate XXXVII. 


Copyright by the Rev. II. M. Dauncey 

Diumana clubhouse 

Note on Pokao 375 

being- some twelve feet above the ground. On the left side of the 
building the posts have all fallen and are more or less damaged by 

The clan system of Nara is in all probability essentially the same 
as that of the Koita and Motu. In the village of Oroi there are four 
clans iidiibii) and descent generally takes place in the male line. 

Mr Dauncey points out that the number of idubu in a village 
varies; in both Alaala and Diumana there is only one, in Bokama 
there are two, and it has been mentioned that Oroi has four. 

' As far as I can make out when there is only one idubic the same 
name serves for both idiibii and clubhouse. This is so at Alaala and 
also at Diumana where the one name is Elevai.' 

'Each idiibii had its head man but one of these was the head and 
chief of the village and this man was the owner of the right hand front 
post of the clubhouse.' 

' At Diumana (old village) and Bokama the chiefs house faced the 
front of the clubhouse. At Oroi, Alaala and Lalime the chiefs house 
is the house to the right of the clubhouse.' 

Certain men called loe kaima were responsible for the upkeep 
of the loe and corresponded to the diibii tauna of further east. They 
would tell each man how much food he was expected to bring to the 
loe on the occasion of a feast, and would when necessary superintend 
the repairs to the loe which were carried out under the directions 
of one or more of their number. 

I am indebted to Captain Barton for the names of the Oroi idubu, 
which are Rumabada, Miakeni, Avoolana, Uboolana. Although as 
stated above, descent is commonly in the male line, the reverse is 
sometimes the case in the families of chiefs, and women may be chiefs. 
Thus, a woman Kaloka is not only head of her clan but has always 
possessed so much influence in her village Oroi, that she was pre- 
sented with the regulation bdtou and made village constable by the 
Government. On her death her authority will pass to her son Naime 
who belongs to her clan (Rumabada) and not to his father's. 

^ One of these posts was brought home and is now in the British Museum. 



(By C. G. Seligmann and E. L. Giblin.) 

The following folk tales were all collected from the people 
of the mainland of South-eastern British New Guinea. 

The Wagawaga tales were taken down from the old men 
of the community in the evening ; sometimes in the clubhouse 
{potuma) frequented only by the old men, at other times 
in the house of one Ipunesa, who proved himself a reliable 
interpreter. In either case one or more of the old men told 
the story to the interpreter, who translated it into ' pidgin ' 
English sentence by sentence. Once, in order to check, as 
far as possible, the reliability of this method, a story told by 
Ipunesa was taken down and about a week later the same 
story, told by an old man, was translated and the results 
compared. The two versions showed no substantial dis- 
crepancies and we believe these Wagawaga stories to be, 
in the main, reasonably accurate translations of the stories 
told to the interpreter, although it is of course possible that in 
some cases details were summarised in the translation into 
pidgin English. In every case where the meaning of a pidgin 
English expression was not clear, the matter was threshed out 
on the spot ; here of course another chance of misunderstanding 
is introduced, but we are convinced that the occurrence of this 
form of error was reduced to a minimum. 

The stories from Taupota, Awaiama and Goodenough Bay 
(collected by E. L. G.) labour under none of the dis- 
advantages inherent in the use of an interpreter ; the recorder's 
knowledge of the dialects used, enabled him to make rapid 
translations from the native language. In all these folk tales 
many of the incidents are related in so bare a manner, 
and there appear to be such gaps in the narrative, that the 

Folk Tales 377 

story is rendered absolutely Incoherent to one not already 
acquainted with it, or thoroughly conversant with native 
habits and customs. It was therefore often necessary to 
ask our informants what was meant or implied, and the 
stories as presented contain the necessary explanations and 

With the exception of the story No. 13 none of the tales 
here given show any signs of white influence, and it must be 
remembered that twenty years ago there was no intelligent 
intercourse with white men in any part of the district under 
consideration. The customs and habits of the people of 
Taupota show that they are so nearly related to the Milne 
Bay people, that the stories collected from these two localities 
should probably be considered to form a single group. 
Whether the single tale from Awaiama should be connected 
with this group or with those of Goodenough Bay is un- 
certain ; geographically Awaiama lies in the neighbourhood 
of Cape Frere to the west of Taupota. The natives of 
Goodenough Bay differ sufficiently from those of Taupota, 
and probably from those of Awaiama, to make it certain that 
the tales collected from them should be considered to form 
another group. 

It does not seem possible to form any idea of the age of 
these stories, any one who knows how rapidly the natives of 
this part of the world forget their own history will hardly be 
prepared to attribute any value, as evidence of antiquity, to 
the frequent occurrence of rock or cave dwelling folk in these 
tales. They do however throw light on certain phases of 
belief which a current acquaintance with the people who tell 
these tales does not at first reveal. Such stories as Nos. 3, 
5, 15 and 26, show that from one aspect, man and animals, are 
considered as essentially similar ; and this in spite of the 
belief, certainly held by many If not by all the natives of 
Wagawaga, that man alone has a spirit that survives after 
death. Again the belief in the existence of a number of 
non-human and non-animal beings, subserving no particular 
functions in the general order of the Papuasian universe, but 
usually more or less malevolent, was quite unexpected. To 
such creatures, who are usually thought of as sharing the 
ideas and span of life of man, we have ventured to apply the 
term ogre, when, as is commonly the case, they are harmful or 

378 The Southern Massim 



There was once a woman who spent all her time weeding 
her garden which lay just above the beach. One day the 
woman saw a big fish playing in the surf, so she went down 
on to the reef where the surf broke and walked out Into the 
sea. The fish, which was of the kind called wadumo, rubbed 
against her legs and nuzzled her thighs and every day the 
woman went Into the sea to play with the fish the same thing 
happened^ After some time the woman's thigh began to 
,\ swell and got bigger and bigger, in spite of the poultices of 
JLl^^ hot leaves with which she treated it. As it became very 
painful she asked her father to scarify it with an obsidian 
fragment, in the usual way. He did so, and a boy child burst 
from one of the Incisions he had made. The woman took the 
boy, washed him and cut the cord, then she lay down by the 
fire and gave her baby to suck. 

The child grew up with the other village children, but one 
day when they were playing at throwing spears at trees and 
bushes, the leg-child, Dudugera, instead of throwing his toy 
spears at the stumps of trees threw them at his companions. 
The other boys got angry and abused him saying that his 
father was a fish and that he had better go back to him. 
Then the children went back to the village and told their 
mothers that Dudugera had been throwing spears at them. 
Although the culprit's mother was angry, she was also 
frightened that her boy might suffer on account of his mis- 
conduct, and so she asked her mother where she could send 
him for safety and at last determined to follow her mother's 
advice and give him to his father. 

So the mother of Dudugera went to the beach with her 
son, and the great fish came swimming up and took the child 
in his mouth and carried him to a far-away country in the 
east. Now before Dudugera left his mother he told her to 
advise her relations to uproot their sugar cane and taro and 
bananas, and to make their gardens in the shadow of the 
overhang of the great rock called Duyau, and they were also 
to go and live in the shelter of that rock ; for, soon after he 

* Wadumo is a totem throughout a considerable portion of the south-eastern 
district, though it is not a totem of any of the Wagawaga clans. At Tubetube this_ 
fish is called warumo and has the fish-hawk as linked bird totem. ~ 

Folk Tales 379 

left them he would climb into a pandanus, and thence into the 
sky, and all the trees and plants and people in all the villages 
would die, but they his friends would be saved, if they obeyed 
him, and took shelter under the rock, Duyau. 

As Dudugera had prophesied, the water soon dried up, 
the trees withered, the gardens ceased to bear, and pigs and 
dogs, and last of all, even the men of the country, died on 
account of the great heat. 

But one morning the mother of Dudugera took a lime pot 
and climbed a hill, and, as the sun came up, she sprinkled the 
lime from the gourd across the face of the sun and so made 
him shut his eyes, and then it was not so hot as before and 
presently there was a little rain, and the next morning there 
were clouds, and the sun came up behind these clouds just as 
he so often does at the present day. 



Long ago, before men had fire, there lived at Maivara at 
the head of Milne Bay an old woman whom all the boys and 
youths called Goga^. 

At this time people used to cut their yams and taro into 
thin slices and dry them in the sun. Now the old woman 
prepared food in this way for ten of the youths, but when they 
were away in the bush hunting wild pig she cooked her own 
food. She did this with fire taken from her body, but she 
cleared away the ashes and scraps before the boys came back 
so that they should not know how she cooked her taro 
and yams. 

One day a piece of the boiled taro got among the boys' 
food, and inadvertently she put it in their dish, and when all 
the boys were eating their evening meal, the youngest boy 
picked up the piece of boiled taro and tasted it and was 
surprised to find it so good. He gave it to his comrades to 
taste and they all liked it, for it was soft instead of hard and 
dry like their taro, and they could not understand how taro 
came to be so nice. Accordingly next day when the boys 

1 This story was given me under the title of 'The Story of the Okioki tree,' and 
it was said that formerly yams and taro were sometimes eaten after being sliced 
and sun-dried in the way described. 

2 Goga is the ordinary term employed in addressing a man or woman of a 
generation older than that of the speaker, when the individual addressed does not 
belong to the clan of the speaker or to his (or her) father's clan (cf. chapter XXXV). 

380 The Southern Massim 

went to the bush to hunt, the youngest boy remained behind 
and hid in the house. He saw the old woman dry his and his 
comrades' food in the sun, but before she cooked her own food 
she took fire from between her legs. That night, when the 
boys came back from hunting, and while they were all eating 
their evening meal, the youngest told his story. And the boys 
saw how useful this fire was, and determined to steal some 
from the old woman, and to this end they made a plan. 

In the morning they all sharpened their adzes and cut 
down a tree as big as a house ; then they all tried to jump 
over it, but only the youngest boy succeeded, so he was chosen 
to steal fire from the old woman. Next morning all the boys 
went out to hunt in the bush as usual, but when they had gone 
a little way they all turned back and nine boys hid themselves, 
but the youngest went quietly back to the old woman's house, 
and when she was going to cook her taro slipped behind her 
and snatched a brand from her. He ran as fast as he could 
to the felled tree and jumped over it, and the old woman could 
not follow him over the tree. But as he jumped the brand 
burned his hand and he let it fall and set light to the grass, 
and then a pandanus (into) caught fire. 

Now a snake called Garubuiye lived in a hole in this 
pandanus and its tail caught fire and burned like a torch\ 
The old woman caused rain to fall in great torrents so that 
the fire was put out, but the snake stayed in his hole in the 
pandanus tree, and his tail was not extinguished. 

When the rain had ceased the boys went out to look for 
fire, but found none, till at last they saw the hole in the 
pandanus and pulled out the snake and broke off its tail 
which was still glowing. Then they made a great pile of 
wood and set fire to it with brands lighted from the snake's 
tail, and folk from all the villages came to that fire to take 
some home with them, and the different folk used different 
kinds of wood as fire brands, and the trees from which they 
took their brands became xh^ir pianai (totems). 



Once upon a time there were no coconuts and this is the 
story of the first coconut palm. 

^ Garubuiye is an important snake since it is the snake totem of Garuboi clan 
of Wagawaga. 

Folk Tales 381 

A long time ago a woman lived In a village on the top of 
a hill, and she used often to go down the hill to the sea to 
catch fish. And this is how she caught the fish ; when she 
was on the beach she took off her head and placed it on the 
sandy bottom in shallow water. After a little time the fish 
swam into the head, and then she would shake the fish out of 
her head and put it on her shoulders again. 

And day after day she fished in this manner. One day a 
man from another village saw the heap of fish bones lying 
near the woman's house and he wondered how they came 
there, so he watched the woman, and when she went down to 
the sea he followed her very cautiously so that she did not see 
him. When she put her head in the sea the man picked 
It up and pitched it into the scrub behind the beach. Then, 
when the woman returned to take her fish and put her head 
on her shoulders again, she could not find it and so she died. 

The head lay where it fell on a patch of grass in the scrub, 
and after a while it sprouted and grew into a coconut palm. 
Time went on and the tree bore fruit, and the fruit ripened, 
and the nuts fell to the ground. Then the man who had 
thrown the woman's head into the scrub came there, and 
he picked up the nuts, husked them, and broke them open, 
and found they were full of blood. 

So the man climbed up the tree and picked some young 
nuts and these he husked and opened, and they too were full 
of blood. Then he put charcoal in the nuts he had opened, 
but still the blood remained. So he sprinkled them with lime, 
and left them in the sun to dry, and the blood disappeared. 
Then he took half the nut and scraped and shredded the meat 
inside it, and squeezed the shreds with water in a leaf, and 
when he reached home his wife was cooking food, so he 
poured the juice he had squeezed from the coconut over the 
food, and it was better to eat than it had ever been before. 
And since then people have always used the ' oil ' of the 
coconut in this way. 

One day a bird Pwakua smelt the scraped coconut, so he 
looked for it and at last found the island where the man lived ; 
but when the bird had seen what it was that smelt so good 
he flew home again. That night when the sun went down he 
slept, but he woke with the dawn, and flew back to the island, 
and by watching the man found the coconut palm, stole a 


382 The Southern Massim 

nut, and brought It home with him to Nada (the Laughlans)\ 
Then he made a clearing in the bush and planted the nut, but 
when he went back to his village and the folk asked him where 
he had been, he would not tell them. 

At last the nut he had planted became a tree, and the 
tree bore fruit, and then he took a canoe and went to the 
island from which he had carried off the coconut, and the nuts 
were ripe on those palms, so he threw down many of them, 
and took them back to Nada, and gave them to the folk there, 
and told them how to plant the nuts and tend the young trees. 
But when they asked him whence they came he only answered 
* I went a long way and stole them.' 

After this everybody planted coconuts and this Is how they 
came to the villages. 



There was once a snake of great size called SInerogusI 
Sarasara who lived beneath the ground. One day a woman 
asked her daughter to come to the garden to help her in her 
work, but the girl, saying that she would look for shell fish of 
the kind called dihara, went down to the beach and dug for 
the shells, and while digging found one of the eggs of 
Sinerogusi Sarasara, which she brought home and ate, not 
knowing what it was. Every day she went to the beach to 
look for dihara, and every day she found an ^g^ which she 
brought home and ate. Now the eggs were laid in a row 
stretching from the body of the snake, so that the girl dug 
nearer the snake every day, till at last she saw the sheen of the 
snake's back in the hole she had made. At this she became 
much afraid and ran back to the village as fast as she could, 
and there sought shelter in a house. By-and-by the snake, 
who had known all along that a girl was finding and eating 
his eggs, forced his way out of the ground, and followed the 
girl to the village, where the folk showed him the house in 
which she was hiding. So he went there and found her, and 
entered her belly, per vulvam, and coiled himself up within 

^ It was explained that Pwakua was alternately a man or bird as he wished. 
Pwakua is also a totem to the north of East Cape. Nada is a rather barren atoll 
about 40 miles to the east of Murua ; it is, however, famed for its coconuts, which, 
with fish caught on its reefs, form the staple food of its inhabitants. 

Folk Tales 383 

her, but when he moved his head stuck out of her mouth. 
The girl was horribly frightened at all this and cried bitterly. 
Although the folk of her community were furiously angry, 
they could not at first see any remedy ; but presently they 
thought of a scheme by which the girl might be rid of the 
snake. They built a large number of sailing canoes and raced 
them against each other in order to find the fastest. When 
they had found this, it was given out that the whole com- 
munity would go fishing on the reefs off an island at a little 
distance from the village. Now the island on which the 
people would be obliged to live for two or three days was 
waterless, and had been selected for the site of the fishing 
party for this very reason. 

Next morning the canoes were loaded with food, and the 
girl, with the snake still coiled up in her belly, was put into 
the fastest, but no water was put in this canoe although it 
contained plenty of food. That night they all had water 
to drink on the island except those who had been travelling 
in the fastest canoe. Next morning the girl complained to her 
father of thirst and he asked the snake why he did not get 
water for his wife, ' More better you come out and you 
get water, wife belong you no got water.' So the snake left 
the girl's body and asked her father where water was to 
be found, and the old man directed the snake to go round 
three headlands of the island, saying that there was plenty of 
water on the far side of the third point. But when the snake 
had got past the first point, the canoes pushed off and made 
their way as quickly as possible to their village, and the 
fastest canoe carrying the girl led the way. The snake came 
back, and when he found his wife gone he swam after the 
canoes, asking the occupants of each if his wife were in it. 
At last he overtook the girl's canoe, but the men in that canoe 
had sharpened their adzes, and when the snake attempted to 
climb into the canoe they cut him to pieces with their well- 
ground blades. As the men were cutting at him the snake 
asked why they were killing him, and they said that if they 
did not he would kill the girl. And when the snake was dead 
they cut him into many pieces, which sank, and became the 
big reefs that stretch away from Tokunu. 

384 The Southern Massim 



There was once a boy whose name was Hagwai; now 
this boy was also a cuscus. 

Hagwai built a potuina with his ail, and he lived in a 
house with his ail and his wife. 

The ail told his wife to feed Hagwai well, but when he 
was away in the garden she only gave him scraps, yam and 
banana skins, and she never gave him any good food. 

One day when the woman was working in her garden, the 
ail asked the boy to come to the gardens with him. On the 
way they came to a tree with ripe fruit on it, and Hagwai 
climbed up this and began to eat the fruit. His ail called 
to him to come down, but Hagwai did not answer, so his ail 
called again, and then Hagwai told him that he was hungry 
because the woman never gave him any good food, but 
only scraps and parings. Again his ail called to Hagwai to 
come down, but the boy jumped into another tree, and when 
his ail cut this tree down, the boy jumped into another 
bigger tree, and there turned into a cuscus. 

Then his ail sharpened his adze, and went on to the 
gardens and found his wife, who called to him to come and 
help her plant taro, but the man said nothing for he was 'wild,' 
and he caught her by the hair and asked her why she had 
not fed his sister's child, and he told her that the boy had 
turned into a cuscus. Then he killed her and returned to 
his village. 



Once, in a village near Wagawaga, there lived a man who 
found such favour with the women folk that all the other men 
became jealous of him. 

Now near the village there was a great cave and men used 
to go down into it by a rattan to catch flying foxes. One 
day the man went down and before he could climb back his 
fellow villagers came and cut the rattan. He called to his 
clansmen and asked why the cane had been cut, so one of 
them told him it was because the villagers were jealous of him. 
Then the man begged one of his clansmen to lower his two 
dogs and a basket of taro ; they did this and then went away. 

The man thought he would never be able to get out and 
so must die, but he gave a piece of taro to each of his dogs 

Folk Tales 385 

and ate some himself, then he fell asleep. Next day the dogs 
began scraping and scratching and so started to bore a tunnel. 
They went on working for many days, and each day he fed 
the dogs with taro and ate some himself. At last, when 
there was very little food left, the hole opened on the beach 
and the sea came up and washed in and made the opening 
bigger, so that the man was able to crawl out carrying one of 
the dogs with him, but the other was washed back into the 
hole by a wave. When the man came out of the cave his 
hair was partly scraped off his head, his body was scratched 
all over, and he was very thin and weak. And although he 
was very pleased to be in the warm sunshine again he was so 
weak that he went to sleep on a stone, and he slept all that 
day till night came again. 

Now it happened that an old woman in a village near the 
sea dreamt that night that there were fish to be caught near 
a big stone on the beach, so she got up and went to the stone, 
and there she saw the man sleeping. She asked him where he 
came from and he told her his story; then she returned to her 
village and cooked food and brought it to the man, and after- 
wards took him to her village. And by-and-by the man 
grew strong again and went to hunt for wild pig, and after 
hunting all day he found he was near his own village, so he 
went to see his mother, but he told her to be sure not to let 
any of the villagers know that he was still alive. Then he 
told his mother not to drink any water, because he was going 
to poison the water so that all the villagers would die because 
they had tried to kill him\ 

So his mother did as he told her, and she also warned his 
ail and his cousins, but all the rest of the folk died, because 
the man poisoned the water. And when they were all dead 
he came and lived in his own village with his mother and 
his ail. 



Once upon a time there were no drums in Wagawaga. 
But the people who lived beneath the ground had good drums, 
to the beating of which they danced. 

Once a man went hunting and strayed a long way from 
home. He was about to return when suddenly he heard a 

^ It was said that the poison referred to was not the common fish poison, 
although it was used in the same way, but something more subtle because tasteless. 
S. N. G. 25 

386 The Southern Massim 

muffled sound coming from beneath the earth. He found a 
way into the earth, and followed the sound until he came 
upon two men beating drums, so he went up to one of them 
and asked him to lend him his drum. The drummer consented 
and the Wagawaga man slipped away quietly, and ran with 
the drum as fast as he could towards Wagawaga. 

Soon the men noticed that their drum was gone, so they 
came above ground and saw the Wagawaga man a long way 
off. They followed him but could not overtake him, and so 
turned back before they reached Wagawaga. Now when the 
man got home, he hung up the drum in his house, and next 
day, while the men of the under-world were asleep, he 
went back and stole some more drums and brought them to 

So men copied them and have used drums for dancing 
ever since. 



Once a man was killed and eaten at Boihatu Aipaina, 
which is near Wagawaga. His skull was hung up in the 
pot2ima in the usual way. One day, when all the villagers 
were away in the gardens, a man came on a visit from 
Dagama, which is near Maivara, and hearing a voice singing 
in the potunia, he listened. The voice came from the skull, 
but when he went into the potuma the song stopped. 

When the villagers returned from the gardens they wel- 
comed the Dagama man, and asked him to stay the night 
but he refused. After a few days he came again, and again 
his friends asked him to stay, but once more he refused, 
and although they offered him bagi^ benam and samakupa, he 
would not take any of these, and it was only when they asked 
him if there was anything he would care to have, that he 
said there was a skull in the pohtma which he would like. 
Tt was not a good skull,' he said, 'but he had taken a fancy 
to it.' So they gave him the singing skull and he took 

^ There seemed to be some confusion in our informants' minds between the 
inhabitants of the other-world, the under-world of Hiyoyoa (cf. chapter XLVill), and 
a special class of men and women who, it was alleged, lived beneath the earth, but 
not in Hiyoyoa. These folk were said to have passed underground during an 
earthquake, and in every respect resembled ordinary mortals except that they 
lived longer. They were called Orotu, the ordinary name for men and women, 
and on cross examining our informants it was agreed that the story did not apply 
to the inhabitants of Hiyoyoa. 

Folk Tales 387 

it away with him. When he had left the village it sang all 
the way to Dagama and only stopped when he told it to, just 
before reaching his village. 

There he hung it up in a tree near his house and it sang 
continuously, and all Dagama learnt its song. But one day 
when everyone had gone to the gardens and the skull was 
singing as usual, a man came from Bohuro in the bush 
behind Dagama. He heard the song and looked about to 
see where it came from, but when he found the singing skull 
he was afraid and broke it in pieces with a stone. 

But all the men of Milne Bay had learnt the song and 
they taught it to the folk of Rogea. 



Many years ago a toreha was held at Yoyowaga\ and one 
night while all the young people of the village and their 
guests were dancing, a number of the folk of Tanoduya, 
beneath the ground, passed through the secret opening on 
the hillside into the upper world, and came to Yoyowaga to 
watch the dancing. The villagers took no notice of them, and 
before daylight they all went back to Tanoduya except one 
woman who had fallen asleep on the verandah of a house. 

Like all her kinsfolk this woman had a long nose as white 
men have, and her eyes were set obliquely. In the morning 
the villagers found her seeking vainly for the opening in 
the rock leading to Tanoduya. At last she fell, and lay 
exhausted on the ground until the evening, when the villagers 
carried her on to the verandah of one of their houses, and 
covered her with a mat. As they did not know her name 
they called her Tanoduya. 

Next afternoon she awoke and was very hungry, and the 
village folk brought her all kinds of yams and taro and other 
food, but she could not eat any of them; at last someone 
brought her bananas, and these she was able to eat as well 
as a fresh water prawn (uhari) and a crab (neptta). 

When she had eaten she again tried to find her way to 
Tanoduya but could not do so. So she stayed in Yoyowaga, 
and after a while she married a man of Bolama and went with 
him to live at Dapaana, where she had many children. And 

1 The site of a deserted village, toreha is the name of a big mourning feast, cf. 
chapter XLVI. 


388 The Southern Massim 

when she died her body was taken up the hillside which over- 
looks the bay and placed under a boulder. 



Once upon a time there were two boys who had no 
father or mother, so they lived with their grandmother. Now 
these boys always went with the men to hunt wild pig, but 
when the pigs were divided the boys were given only the 
skin. The boys told their grandmother how unfairly they 
were treated, and as she possessed magic power she deter- 
mined to punish the men. 

Now in those days everyone lived in a cave 'inside great 
stone,' but the old woman and the boys were not allowed this 
shelter, and were forced to sleep in the open. 

So one night when everyone was in the cave the old 
woman charmed Its walls so that the entrance closed. In 
the night a child woke and cried to go outside, so his mother 
got up, but she could not find the opening, and when she 
blew the embers of the fire into a blaze to find her way out, 
she saw that she was shut in by rock on every side. She 
woke her kinsfolk and everyone was afraid but they could do 
nothing, for the opening had gone, and there was only a 
small hole in the roof of the cave just large enough for a man 
to put two fingers through. 

All the people wondered why the entrance to the cave 
had closed, and one old man bewailed their former greediness, 
for he guessed how the old woman had revenged herself on 
them all. And as they had no food they soon died, and at 
last only the old man was left, and then the boys from outside 
called out 'is everyone dead?' And the old man answered, 
'Only I live, give me a little food.' But the boys would not 
give him any, so he too dled\ 



Once upon a time there was a red eel called Tuisuheaia, 
and he lived in the stream Habaria at Gubugabuna. 

He married a woman who also lived under the water, in 
a village In another stream called Fala, which is on the main-* 

^ Our informant drew the moral that at Wagawaga everyone, even women an(^ 
children, were given their fair share of food. 

Folk Tales 389 

land opposite Samarai, and Tulsuheala went to live in his 
wife's village. 

Now in Birobirolo there lived a man and his wife, and the 
woman had just born a child, so she stayed in the house and 
her husband went to fish in the creek. At sundown the eel 
assumed his man form and took a rough coconut basket of, the 
kind called hiliga, such as the women used to carry food, and 
filled it with wood which had become rotten in water. With 
this he went to Birobirola to the woman's house and passed 
the basket to her saying ' here are many fish.' The house 
was dark, so the woman thought that Tuisuheaia was her 
husband, and when he said to her * give me the child ' she 
did so and the eel took it away. Soon the real husband 
returned and asked for the child, and the woman said ' I gave 
the child to you but a short while back.' 

'That cannot be,' said the man, 'for I am only now 
returned from fishing in the creek.' Then they argued for 
some time but at last they knew that the child was lost, so 
they both went to look for it, and they searched all that 
night but they could not find their child, and they cried with 

Now the eel had taken the child and dashed out its brains 
on a rock and had eaten it. In the morning the woman saw 
the blood on the rock and showed it to her husband, and 
together they found the place where the eel had gone to his 
village in the bed of the river. 

The man thrust a pole into the river and found the hole 
among the rocks in which the eel's village lay, then he drew 
the pole out and lit its end, and again thrust it down into the 
eel's village. And the village caught fire and burned, and the 
eel knew that it was a man that had done this. A great storm 
came, and there was thunder and rain both on the land, and 
in Fala under the river, and the man and his wife were both 
killed, and they were turned into rocks. 

And the people call these rocks Papi, and you can see 
them to this day. 


Once upon a time by a big hill called Aramidai there lived 
a man called Kwahohofi. Every one was afraid of Kwahohofi 
for he ate many people ; he used to find men by watching for the 

390 The Southern Massim 

smoke of their fires, and then he would catch and kill them. 
He ate so many men that his father and mother and ail 
became very angry and reproached him. But it was useless, 
he went on till there were scarcely any people left in the 
district, and he even ate his brother-in-law and his aii. 

Then his surviving relatives were very troubled, and met 
together and consulted as to what should be done, and at last 
they hit upon a plan. 

They called Kwahohofi and began talking in a friendly 
way, and they talked of panic, and each man said that there 
was one thing above all others of which he went in fear ; 
some men said they feared a great wind, others thunder and 
rain, and then they asked Kwahohofi what his special fear was. 
And he said he feared neither storm nor rain, there was but 
one thing that made him afraid and that was the wave after an 

So the men were pleased for now they knew they could 
trap him. 

Kwahohofi always slept on the top of the cliff so as to be 
out of the way of the tide, but he slept very near the edge. 
And when he was asleep men came and made a great fire, 
and it roared and flared, and some one threw some of the milk 
of a young coconut over Kwahohofi crying * The great wave 
has come.' 

Then Kwahohofi snatched at his spear and shield, but in 
his great fear of the wave he fell over the cliff and was 



The ogre Kuporu lived in the bush in the mountainous 
country behind Milne Bay. He was a giant and his hand was 
as big as any man's thigh, and he used to eat men whom he 
pounced on while they were diving for fish on the reefs. He 
would catch them under water and take them to the bush, and 
there kill and eat them. 

One day, near Modewa, many white men came from a 
schooner in two whale boats, and they sought Kuporu and 

* An exaggerated fear or dread of a particular object or of a natural phenomenon 
is perhaps not very uncommon among the Papuasians of south-eastern British New 
Guinea ; at least our informants clearly considered it nothing very unusual, and 
instanced an otherwise perfectly normal man of Wagawaga who was stated to 
become ill and practically helpless with fear during every severe thunderstorm. 


Folk Tales 391 

killed him. But they wrapped his body in a large sheet of 
canvas and took it on the schooner to the island Igwari, which 
is at the entrance of Milne Bay. Here they cut up the ogre 
and all partook of his flesh except one man from Sariba who 
would not touch it. Next day the schooner sailed away, and 
that day a man died. And each day one or two of the crew 
died, until only the Sariba man who had not touched the 
monsters flesh remained alive\ 



Once upon a time Gwarigwaridona lived in the bush : 
he was a kind of ogre with short spears ' like horns ' growing 
from all his joints and from his forehead, and in his time he 
had killed and eaten many men and women of Wagawaga and 
the neighbouring villages. 

Now a man called Faisi Uri also lived in the bush and 
hunted wild pig with his two dogs. One day when he had 
taken a big pig, he danced, sang, and shouted with delight so 
loudly that Gwarigwaridona heard the noise, and came to him. 
Now Faisi Uri was frightened because of the spears that 
grew on the body and forehead of Gwarigwaridona, but 
Gwarigwaridona said ' Alright, let us together carry this pig 
to my house.' 

They did so and killed the pig, and Falsi Uri cut it up 
ready for cooking. But he said to his dogs ' When I give 
a big joint of meat to Gwarigwaridona you go and bite him.* 
So he gave him a large piece of flesh, and immediately the 
dogs tried to bite him, but when Gwarigwaridona gave the 
meat back to Faisi Uri the dogs let him alone. So Faisi 
gave him a smaller piece of pig-flesh. 

Then Faisi Uri and Gwarigwaridona boiled their meat, 
each one in his own pot, but the meat cooked by Faisi Uri 

1 This story was implicitly believed, though it was agreed that it was unlike the 
common practice of white men to eat human flesh, for, in spite of his ogreish 
qualities it was clear that Kuporu was considered essentially human. An explana- 
tion was offered by a couple of rather advanced natives which sheds a humorous 
light on the instruction given by some native teachers to their pupils. A native 
who took an active part m evangelical work in the village pointed out, that there 
was no reason why this story should not have been true, since the white men 
referred to might have come from some other country than ' Beretane,' perhaps, 
as he suggested, from Germany. To refute scepticism, one of the neckbones of the 
ogre was produced for inspection which it was said would give some idea of how 
large Kuporu was. The bone in question was a cervical vertebra of small 

392 The Southern Massim 

was good while that boiled by Gwarigwaridona remained 
half raw. Gwarigwaridona praised the way Faisi Uri had 
cooked his share and helped himself to some of it, at the same 
time putting some of his own badly cooked meat before Faisi 
Uri. The latter then asked the ogre where there was water 
to drink. Then Gwarigwaridona brought some skulls with 
water in them and passed one to Faisi Uri, but he was afraid 
to drink from a skull. 

One day Gwarigwaridona thought he would kill Faisi Uri, 
so he cut down a bamboo and made a knife from it. But 
Faisi Uri knew that Gwarigwaridona had made a bamboo 
knife, and guessed that the ogre intended to cut off his head, 
so he ran away to his own village and told the villagers to cut 
down trees to make shields, so as to be prepared to attack 
Gwarigwaridona. When they had done this, they all came to 
the cavern in a great rock where Gwarigwaridona lived. 
Gwarigwaridona easily split all the men's shields with the 
spears growing from his body, except three of them which 
were of very hard wood, so he lowered his head and butted 
one of the men who carried one of these shields, seeking to 
kill him with the spears growing from his forehead, but the 
man received his charge on his hardwood shield and this was 
so tough that the spears snapped, and Gwarigwaridona fell 

The men of the attacking party would not eat Gwarig- 
waridona, but left his body where it fell at the entrance of the 



Once upon a time a woman gave birth to a son, she nursed 
him until he could carry a digging stick, and then she left him 
every day while she went to work in the garden. 

One day as she was going home she noticed a wild cucumber 
plant ; she picked one of its fruits and took it home to her 
son ; when he tasted it he said ' Mother, I must come with 
you to-morrow and get some more,' and his mother agreed^ 

In the morning his mother slipped away before daybreak, 
but she brought him another wild cucumber when she came 
home at night. 

* The plant referred to is called kapukapurika and bears a mottled fruit about 
the size of a large gooseberry. 

Folk Tales 393 

The boy said to her ' What did you leave me for, I wanted 
to go with you,' but his mother put him off with ' We will go 
to-morrow.' In the morning the boy woke up very early, and 
when his mother went to the gardens he walked in front of her. 

Now when the boy saw the wild cucumber he ran to it 
and began to eat its fruit greedily ; he ate until he had eaten 
all the fruit, both ripe and unripe ; afterwards he ate the leaves, 
and while he was eating them his mother called him and said 
'See, the sun is setting, let us go home,' but he only answered 
* By-and-by, I am eating,' and he went on and ate the leaves 
and the stalk, and he even pulled up the roots and ate them. 
When there was nothing more to eat his mother said to him 
impatiently ' Come along, come along, it is quite dark, let us 
go home.' 

When he stood up he could not help crying out, his stomach 
pained him so much that he was quite unable to walk. However, 
his mother said she would carry him on her back, but when 
she put him in her basket he was so heavy that he smashed 
the basket and fell through ; the same thing happened when 
she tried to carry him in her string bag. The boy was now 
groaning in great pain. 

So there was nothing to be done but for his mother to 
leave him while she went home to tell his father, who would 
come and carry him home : so she covered him up very care- 
fully and left him. After dusk had set in, an ogre, Wavinerua- 
tonu by name, came to see how the cucumber he had planted 
was getting on, and he saw it had disappeared. As he was 
looking about to see what had become of it he muttered to 
himself: 'I'd like to know who has eaten up my plant.' 
The boy thought it was his father, and called out ' Father, 

Then the ogre discovered him and said ' At any rate if you 
have eaten my cucumber I can eat you,' so he lifted him on 
to his shoulder and turned his steps homewards. 

Arrived there he placed the boy upon the ground, and 
covered him with a big pot and slept until the morning. 

Early in the morning he got up and in a voice loud enough 
for all to hear, said, ' Oho, my brothers, oho, my children, 
all of you may carry my digging stick to-day and take my adze 
for me and let your own yams and taro and other food remain, 
and you shall all partake of what I eat to-night'.' Now when 

^ 'Carry my digging stick. ..and take my adze....' It was explained that this 

394 T^^^ Southern Masstm 

they had all gone to the gardens there was only an infirm old 
woman left to mind the little ones, and when the boy found 
this out, he said ' Old woman, won't you open my cage for 
me ? ' but the old dame said * Why should I lift up your cage ?' 
It took the men a long time to get enough food, and their 
children who were at home playing said to each other, ' Who 
is in the big pot ? ' and they tilted up the side of the pot. 

Then the boy said : ' Let me out children,' and one of 
them said * Let us free him and we will play with him,' so they 
let him out and they played with him, moving as they played 
until they came to the outskirts of the ogre's village. 

Now his mother and father had been searching for their 
son, and they too came to the outskirts of the village, where 
they found the boy and said to him ' Shall we go home ? ' but 
he answered ' Give me your spears,' so they gave him their 
spears ; his father gave him a spear of peto wood and another 
spear of common wood, and his mother gave him a spear of 
kakoro wood, and with these three spears he climbed to the 
top of a tall coconut palm. 

Now the boy had left his excreta in the pot, and the men 
brought the pot containing the vegetable food and took the 
pot containing the boy, as they supposed, and cooked the 

When it was cooked they uncovered it and all partook 
of the stew, then the men went away. After the children had 
eaten their share they were left to play in the village, and 
when the boy saw them he began to sing softly : 

*You have eaten my dirt and not touched me 
My body is here at the top of the tree.' 

After he had repeated this two or three times they heard 
him and said ' We only had his dirt to eat, there he is up in 
the tree,' so they called the men back. 

Presently one of the men began to climb the coconut, but 
the boy thrust one of his spears into his eye so that he 
dropped and was killed. Then another man attempted to 
climb up but he too was speared in the eye, and so with all of 
them until they gave up trying to climb the tree. But the 
ogre's wife said ' Let us cut our coconut down and so we will 

meant ' I'm in luck to-day and so I'll stand treat for all.' [The rest of the sentence 
refers to feasting customs. In some feasts all the food is provided by the hosts, in 
other instances only flesh food, the guests bringing the vegetables.] 

Folk Tales 395 

get him,' so they cut down the palm, but as the tree was 
falling the boy turned into a black cockatoo and flew away. 
And ever since then he sits in the tree tops or flies 
round them\ 



There was once a little girl who preferred the yellow lily 
root to any other foodl One day she went into the jungle 
and brought one back to the village, and put it down in her 
home ; her mother said to her ' Go to the beach and get some 
salt water to make our food nice,' so she went. While she was 
away her mother and aunts ate the lily root and by the time 
she got back it was all consumed. When she saw it was gone 
she was very much disgusted. 

'Taro is your taro 
My food is the lily root' 

she sang again and again. 

On the morrow she searched for lily roots again and 
brought back a supply, but her aunts and mother treated her 
as they had done on the previous day, and again she com- 
plained bitterly, but they said to her ' Oh we will all go and 
dig lily roots to-morrow and you shall have all we find.' 

Next morning they said to her 'Let us go.' * Go your- 
selves,' she retorted, ' I have no wish to go,' so seeing she was 
sulking, they left her. 

When they were gone, she stayed in the house for some 
time and then got a coconut and husked it, after that she 
scraped the kernel up and put it in the sun to make it oily, 
she used the specially good kind called waduwadu, and was 
not satisfied with one nut but prepared three. When the nut 
scrapings were ready, she oiled herself with them, one for her 
legs, one for her body from her waist up and one for her head. 
Then she laid out all her ornaments and finery and put them 

^ Variants of this story are found also at Mukawa, Bolanai and Wamira, but in 
each case the ending is different : in Wamira there appears to be some confusion 
with another story called 'The black cockatoo.' [Mr Giblin's manuscript attached 
no title to the translation of the version of this story obtained at Taupota, but it 
seemed reasonable to call it the ' Black Cockatoo.'] 

2 The root of this plant is called kanioga. The flower is white and the leaves 
are very like those of Crinum ornatum. The root is the chief source of the yellow 
dye used by the coastal natives of the district. It is not generally used for food, 
and is by some said to be poisonous. 


The Southern Masshn 

on, necklaces of shell beads and quills, shell armlets, anklets 
and a new grass petticoat, then taking her pet dog in her 
arms, she began to sing slowly * Because of the lily root, 
because of the lily root am I going.' Presently she went into 
the bush weeping * Because of the lily root, because of the 
lily root I am goingV' 

Now her mother was returning, and hearing the noise in 
the scrub by the beach said to the girl's father, * Listen, the 
child is crying,' but he only answered 'my back is tired, and 
it is evening, she will come back by-and-by.' 

When the girl came to a lofty wakola tree which was easy 
to climb, she climbed it, and her mother running up saw her. 
' Come down deary, come down,' she said, but the girl 
answered ' No, too late,' and then looking down she saw 
a crocodile in the sea close beneath her, for the tree leaned 
out over the water ; and weeping she sang : 

* Whence, oh crocodile ? 
A crocodile from Makamaka 
A bloody crocodile 

She sang this verse three times, and then she took off her 
ornaments one by one and threw them to the crocodile who 
snapped them down hungrily, she then threw her dog, and 
finally her petticoat until, when naked, she threw herself down 
and the crocodile took her, but her head floated away and the 
waves tossing it washed it near to the shore. Now the 
girl's cousin came down to the beach to get salt water, and 
seeing the head ran and told her mother, who took a hand 
net in which to bring it ashore, but whenever she managed to 
get the head into the net it leapt out again, so she finally 
gave it up, and the head still floats about, and sometimes when 
the waves are big it comes close in shore, but it can never be 

' The girl is an only daughter, and as such would wear all her mother's 
ornaments as well as any she considered her own. Probably some of the ornaments 
enumerated such as the shell armlets would have been the property of such near 
relatives as her mother's sisters. 

^ C^u^stions about the head only annoyed the raconteur who said it was a 
bariaua head which implied that it could not be expected to conform to ordinary 
uses or custom. 

.Suicide is common in this district, five cases having come under observation in 
SIX years. 

The crocodile is not usually associated with suicide, and its presence in the 
story seems to have been a matter of chance. For the frequency of suicide, and 
the trivial causes which may bring it about, cf. chapter XLIII. 


Folk Tales 307 



There was a girl born, and she had no mouth, but only a 
hole in the top of her head ; and she grew up to be a woman 
and without cohabitation conceived and bore a child, and hid 
her offspring in a hole in a tree\ Her friends came to visit 
her and brought food, and stuffed the food in the hole in her 
head so quickly that it hurt her, and the pain was so great 
that she tried to cry out and so she burst a hole in her face, 
which became her mouth. 

Two of her friends were young girls and she said to them 
'Stay with me and be my servants,' so they lived with her 
and helped her. 

One day she said 'Take this food to my son.' One of 
them took it to the hole in the tree but started back afraid, for 
a long snake's neck came out for the food. 

Next day the woman said ' Take this food to my son,' 
and the girl was frightened to go alone, so her friend 
accompanied her and carried the food. Now this friend 
was not at all afraid, but went boldly into the tree, and 
there found a youth of good countenance, and she at once 
desired him and told him she would live with him. When 
the other girl saw this comely youth, she too wanted to live 
with him, so he married them both. 

In due time one of them conceived and bare a son, 
and soon after the two wives went to another village to a 
feast, and the old woman, their mother-in-law, explained the 
path to them. 

* Know,' said she, 'that there are two paths, the big well- 
worn one is the path to the village, but the cross track which 
is much overgrown is the path used by the Taumudukoro. 
Do not dare to go by that way, or perhaps she will kill you.' 

The two women started off, and when they came to the 
cross tracks each one proposed to follow a different path. 
They argued about it, but the young mother said ' I am going 
by the overgrown track, I know it is the right one.' 

After some time the track led down into a steep valley, 
and there was a rocky cave half-way down, and there lived the 

1 This was a virgin birth. Some of the folk who told this story said that the 
girl had no genital passage, and it was clear that she was looked upon as a 

398 The Southern Massim 

Taumudukoro. Now the Taumudukoro is covered with horns 
and spines and is very prickly, but for all that she loves to 
nurse young children. When the Taumudukoro saw them 
she came out of her hole, and ran to meet them. * Give me 
baby to nurse,' she said, and snatched the child away from 
them before they could prevent her. 

She smelt it all over and hugged it regardless of its cries, 
and led the women into her cave. 

* You must stay with me,' she said, and they demurred in 
vain, as the Taumudukoro would not leave off nursing the 
child, but continued hugging and smelling it, although it was 
dripping with blood. 

By-and-by it ceased to cry and soon died. When she saw 
it was dead she spoke affectionately of it, and gave it back to 
its mother. Then she sent the two women away and they 
came to their home. 

Now when the snake husband saw those two women 
coming with the dead body of the baby, he said * What have 
you two done to my child .^' The mother was silent but the 
other woman told the story. 

Next day he said ' You two come, let us go fishing.* 

When the canoe was over the reefs he said to the young 
mother * Do you see that large clam down there on the reef .'^' 
She looked and saw it, and he said to her, ' Dive down and 
clutch its substance and tear it out, the shell will be heavy for 
you to lift.' 

The woman put off her petticoat and left her ornaments in 
the canoe and dived down. And the man and his other wife 
saw her put her hand between the valves of the great clam to 
drag out its flesh, and they saw the valves come together on 
her hand and although she struggled, she struggled in vain. 

When she was quite still they returned to land and told 
the old woman. And when the tide went out the clam was 
hungry and released its hold of the woman, and she was cast 
up by the waves so that her co-wife found her corpse in the 
morning, and her relatives buried her. 



There were once a couple of enchanters of the kind called 
Buimoremore and the female one bore a child to the other. 


Folk Tales 399 

She warned him against putting coconut husks on the fire 
* Or,' said she, 'the smell will be blown up to the hill 
Kamkarago to my mother, and she will know that my child is 
born and will come down and take it from me.' 

He took no notice of what she said, and one day when 
there was a sea breeze the smoke was carried up to Kamkarago 
to the old woman, she smelt it and said ' They have been 
picking coconuts down there and are burning the husks, my 
grandchild must be born,' so she went to her garden and dug 
the best taro and sweet potatoes and filling her largest basket, 
slung it from her head and went down to the beach \ 

When she got to the house she was pleased with the baby 
and wanted to nurse it ; the mother did not want to give it to 
her but she said ' Take this food I have brought you and cook 
it, your food is poor stuff, this is good food.' So the young 
mother took the food, and as soon as the old woman got the 
baby she ran off with it as fast as she could up the hill path. 
Its mother dropped the food and followed, crying out from 
time to time ' Oh Buimoremore, the old woman snatched my 
child and is going off with it into the hills.' 

The woman would not wait for her daughter, and so 
neither rested until at last they both came to Kamkarago. 

There the old woman said ' Have a look at the place, 
it's a long while since you saw it/ so the young mother went 
and looked at the garden and the place where the water was 

When she came back the old womeaie^^^ '^i;ill dandling the 
baby and said to her 'Go and see my \ .r^.'^o she went and 
looked at the animals belonging to the old woman, wallaby 
cuscus, dogs and pigs, parrots, cockatoos and snakes, some in 
cages, and some tethered with cane or creeper. On her 
return her mother was nowhere to be seen, but she re- 
membered the charm whereby she could open the door of the 
cave in which the old woman lived. So she stood in front of 
the rock and said :. 

'Oh rock, be cleft,' 

^ [In answer to a question as to whether this story illustrates a particular 
feature of mother-right or refers to any birth custom, Mr Giblin says that probably 
nothing more is meant than that the woman was fond of children and would want 
to take her grandchildren to live with her, and that it was for this reason that the 
pregnant woman had left her mother and gone no one knew where. If her mother 
saw the smoke she would perhaps search for her in that direction, guessing that 
she was having food cooked for her after her delivery or making water hot in 
order to wash her child.] 

400 The Soitthern Massim 

and the rock door lifted and she went in ; and inside she said : 

* Oh rock, be closed ! ' 

and the entrance closed up behind her. 

Now when her husband came home and found the food, he 
knew his mother-in-law must have brought it, so he cooked 
some, and after he had eaten his evening meal went to sleep, 
and next morning started off on the track of his wife and 

When he got to Kamkarago he could not find any house, so 
he sat down on the track leading to water, until in the evening 
his wife came along it and she taught him the charm, so that 
he could come in and out of the cave. 

They all lived in the cave, and every time the man said 
* I am going,' the old woman said 'then I shall keep the boy,' 
so they stayed a long time. One day when the old woman 
was at work in the garden, the woman and her husband and 
child left Kamkarago and returned to their home on the 
beach and to their pigs. The boy grew up, and when he was 
about five years of age he went to see his grandmother, for 
his mother taught him the charm with the help of which he 
could enter the cave and go along the passage in the rock, 
until he found his grandmother's dwelling-place. He went to 
see her twice for his mother had explained to him * If it is 
easy to cause the rock to open, then the old woman, my 
mother, is alive, but if it is hard then .' 

Now when he v^-nt for the third time he charmed the rock 

, Oil 

again and again, bi ^^ao entrance appeared so he knew that 
she had passed away. He went home and told his mother 
and father and they went up to gather the food from the old 
woman's garden, and afterwards no one ever went near that 
hill and it was called Taukunugegewari. 



There was a witch who married a man who did not 
know that she was a witch. One day they went to the 
gardens and worked until the sun was low on the horizon. 
* Let us go home,' said he, * it will be dark before we reach 
home.* * No,' she said, *by-and-by,' so they worked on 
and on. 

Folk Tales 401 

Sunset came and the man wanted to leave. ' There is no 
house here, no fireplace, and it will rain to-night and yet you 
hold me back, what do you want ? ' 

When it was so dark that they could not see to work, the 
woman said, ' Now, sit on the food basket which is on my 
back,' and the man did so. Then the woman climbed a tree, 
muttered a long spell and launching into the air flew so fast 
that they arrived home very quickly. ' Oh, is that the way.-^' 
said he, 'you must teach me the spell' 

Next day the same thing happened, but the woman did not 
say the last part of the spell very loudly and the man only 
caught the first part. 

On the third day she said, ' I am going to stay at home 
to-day.' 'Never mind,' he said, 'I know the spell, I will 
go alone.' 

All day he worked in the hot sun and In the evening he 
loaded himself with so much food that he could hardly climb 
the tree. When he reached the top he repeated all he knew 
of the spell and then let himself go, but he fell to the ground 
and was smashed to pieces. 

His wife soon began to be anxious. 'Where has he gone 
to sleep .^ ' she said. * I'll go and look for him in the 

So as soon as it was light she took her basket and digging 
stick and went to look for her husband. She looked all 
through the garden and in the scrub, and then went to the 
tree from which she had flown, and there lay the battered 
body of her husband. 



One evening two girls decked themselves with ornaments 
and sweet herbs and went to a dance which was to be held at 
a village some distance inland. 

They had to pass through a dark scrub near a rivulet and 
as they were in the middle of it they heard a croak like that of 
a big frog. ' Oh, there's a swamp frog,' cried one, 'let us go 
and catch it and we can take it with us to the dance, and when 
we tickle it, it will croak.' 

So they left the track to look for the frog ; but there was 
no frog there for it was an old witch who looked and croaked 

s. N. G. 26 

402 The Sotithern Massim 

like a swamp frog. As soon as she saw them she said, 'Come 
along children and have some food with me,' and she led 
them to a cave by the rivulet where everything was wet and 

There was no door but the witch muttered 'Open, open, 
rock,' and the rock opened and they went in. There was a 
fire and a small pot upon it, and the witch said, * You sit 
down, children, and rest, and I will go and get you food.' As 
she went out they heard her muttering, ' What shall I eat 
with them, taro or yams or modara ?' 

* She is going to eat us and has gone to get vegetable 
food,' said one of the girls; Met us go!' 'First let us see 
what we can take,' said the other. So they searched all 
round and they found a large shell necklace of the kind called 
geynogemo and this they took, and calling to the rock to open, 
they left the cave. 

When the old frog-witch got back with her basket of food 
the girls were not there, but she tracked them to a village on 
the beach. When she saw them she cried, ' Children, where 
is my gemogemo, where is my gemogemo ? ' So they left that 
village and went to their uncle's house in the next village, 
whither she followed them crying, ' Where is my gemogemo, 
where is my gemogemo ? ' They left that village and went to 
their father's house and told him all about the old frog-witch 
and he waited for her, and so soon as she arrived he speared 
her and she died. 



There was a man named Duagau who went hunting with 
his dog, and as they were going through thick jungle, the dog 
found a flying fish on the ground. Now there was no sea in 
those days, only land everywhere. When the dog found the 
fish he barked, and his master came and picked up what the 
dog had found. Duagau carried it home and ate it, and it 
tasted better than 'suckers' or any other river fish. Next 
day as he was hunting in the same place his dog found another 
fish which he took and ate. On the following day early in the 
morning he went to where he had found the fish and waited 
to see where they came from, and after watching till noon he 
heard a splashing inside a huge modewa tree and presently a 

Folk Tales 403 

fish fell from its branches. He climbed the tree and found 
that its trunk was hollow and that there were a lot of fish 
swimming about inside the tree. 

Duagau took the fish home and this time gave it to his 
old mother and told her whence it came. She ate it and 
afterwards went to sleep, and slept all through the afternoon 
and the next night and did not wake in the morning. When 
the sun was high people said, ' Is the old woman sick .'^ Why 
has she not come out } ' 

They went to look and she was still sleeping, so they 
roused her and at once she said, ' All ye men get your adzes 
and together go and chop down that tree and get more of 
those fish, for they have no equal for flavour, they are so 
savoury that I cannot compare them to anything.' 

So the men of the two clans Lavarata and Aurana took 
their adzes and went with Duagau as leader and chopped and 
chopped, but the tree was bigger than any other tree for it 
was a bariaua tree\ 

When evening came the men returned to the village and 
slept, but as soon as they had left the tree all the chips made 
by their adzes found the places in the tree trunk from which 
they had been cut and grew together again. So in the 
morning when the men came back the tree appeared un- 
touched and as strong as ever, and although they hacked 
away all day they could not fell that tree, and in the night 
the chips and splinters joined together once more. 

The next day the men again attacked the tree, and a little 
boy took a large chip to play with, and used it as a shield in 
playing a spear game with the other children; and when that 
child went with his mother to the hills in the evening he 
dropped his toy shield and it sprouted. They call the name 
of that village Modewa to this day because of the tree that 
grew there'". In the morning the men found that though the 

* For use of the term bariaua see footnote, p. 396 and chapter XLViii. 

^ It is not unlikely that the village of Modewa, the origin of which is here 
described, is identical with the original or legendary village of origin of the folk of 
the Modewa clan of Wagawaga (cf. chapter xxxiv). At Taupota it is stated that 
certain of the Taupota clans are derived from the same stock or stocks as some 
Milne Bay clans, and certain of the Milne Bay and Taupota clans still continue a 
more or less regular interchange of food. Local groups of the Lavarata clan 
mentioned in the story are found as far west as the head of Goodenough Bay 
where the clan may have originated, for Lavarata is a far-reaching word in this 
district for the north-west wind or the north-west monsoon, and hence has come to 
mean the north-westerly direction. 

26 — 2 

404 The Southern Massim 

wound in the tree had nearly healed there was a gap left 
which looked as if a single large chip were missing. 

At first they all wondered at this until one man remem- 
bered his boy's toy shield, so that day they collected all the 
chips as soon as they fell and made a fire and burnt them. 
Next day they felled the tree and as it crashed to the ground 
a great mass of water gushed out and settled on the low-lying 

On the following day the Lavarata clan lied to the Aurana 
clan, for they said, ' To-day let us rest and feast, to-morrow 
we will go and collect fish ' ; but while the Aurana clan were 
dancing in a clearing the people of the Lavarata clan went to 
where the tree lay, taking with them all the best ornaments 
and pots and weapons and nets in the village. They pushed 
the tree trunk into the water and used the branches as 
paddles, and they were able to live within the hollow trunk of 
that tree, on account of its great size. 

Presently the men of the Aurana clan missed the Lavarata 
folk, and when they looked, saw them disappearing away to the 
north-west and there were no fish and no utensils of any sort 
left to the Aurana'. 

Now the people of the Lavarata clan had light-coloured 
skin just like albinos. The Aurana people waited for them to 
bring back the utensils and weapons they had taken, but they 
waited in vain. After this men made canoes, for in those 
days they had no canoes, in which to cross the sea. 

When the white people came to Taupota everyone knew 
that they were the descendants of the old Lavarata clan, but 
because their fathers had taken all the utensils and weapons 
they had grown wise and become people of property, while 
the Aurana and other folk had stayed as they were. 



Once upon a time a woman gave birth to a child, and soon 
afterwards her husband went to the islands fishing for turtle and 
dugong ; he intended to smoke their flesh where he killed 
them but expected to come back next moon. Now the old 
woman, his mother, had powers of sorcery, and she said to 

^ Aurana is said to be the name of an old village site. 

Folk Tales 


her daughter-in-law, ' There are ripe figs on a fig tree not far 
away, cHmb up and get them\' 

But the young woman was still weak and did not want to 
go ; but the old woman urged her until she consented and 
climbed the tree. When she had got to the fork of the tree, 
the hag began to weave her spell, and she got excited and 
called out quite loudly, ' Hold her, hold her.' 

'What's that you say, mother .f^' said the woman. * Nothing! 
nothing! I was talking to your children and telling them to 
gather up the figs quickly.' Then she began again calling 
vehemently and ending with, * Hold her tight, hold her tight.' 

At this the fork of the fig tree (which was covered with a 
viscid substance) held the young mother so tightly that she 
could not struggle free. Then the old woman climbed up 
and cut off one of her daughter-in-law's hands. She climbed 
down and took the hand to her house and left it there while 
she went to get vegetable food to eat with it. As soon as the 
old hag had passed along the path and was out of hearing, the 
young woman called, ' Little ones ! little ones ! come and milk 
me, to feed your youngest brother,' and the children said, 
' It is our mother, let us sfo and milk her.' 

So they took two coconut cups and milked her into them 
and then fed the baby with this milk. Hardly had they 
finished when the hag came back again. ' What are you 
doing with those cups.^' she asked the children suspiciously. 
' We were getting water from the stream for baby,' they 

Next day the hag cut off the forearm and went as before 
to get taro to eat with her meat. As soon as she had gone 
the performance of the previous day was repeated, the 
children climbed up, milked their mother and fed the baby; 
the hag returned as they finished, but thought it was a 
repetition of the previous day's play. 

The same thing happened on three successive days, the 
hag taking first the upper arm, next the shoulder and finally 
the breast. 

After this the children listened for their mother's cry in 
vain, and they said, ' She is dead, now to-morrow the hag will 
try to kill us so we must hide.' 

^ The tree referred to bears a fruit of a rich red colour when ripe. Dugong are 
occasionally speared in Goodenough Bay, the islands referred to in the story are 
probably the D'Entrecasteaux group. 

4o6 The Southern Massim 

The eldest child went to gather beetles, spiders, snakes, 
scorpions, centipedes, wasps, ants, and everything that stings. 
The second-born collected food and cups and bamboo-knives 
and utensils. 

When this was done the eldest went to a gomida tree 
which grew close to a tall palm, he stood by it and said: 

'Oh Gomida, big Gomida, bend down your top to help us, 
to help us little ones.' 

Then the gomida bent down and the children all got in 
its branches with the stinging creatures and the food and 

* Oh Gomida, straighten out your back to help us little 
ones.' And th^ gomida sprang back until its top leant against 
the palm Into which they all climbed, and then the gomida 
flew back to its usual place. When they were ensconced in 
the palm top they put the beetles and other stinging creatures 
around the trunk below them, and then ate nuts to appease 
their hunger. 

By and by the old hag came back but could not find the 
children. * Little ones, little ones, where are you ? ' she called 
aloud ; and mumbled to herself, ' I'm afraid I've lost my little 
meats, perhaps they know about their mother.' Just then the 
children heard her and said, * Oh grandmother, we are here, 
up in this palm tree.' 'All of you ? ' ' Yes, all of us.' 'Good 
luck,' she said to herself, ' I was afraid my little meat pro- 
visions had run away from me.' 

Next day she was hungry and wanted one of the children 
to eat. So after she had collected vegetable food she came 
and said, ' How does one get up?' ' Upside down,' said the 
eldest-born. So the hag began to climb up feet first, but no 
sooner had she got to the scorpions than they stung her. 
*Oh! oh! oh!' she said and got down and rubbed the part, 
with ashes. That day she had nothing to eat, so in the 
morning she came back and again asked how she ought to 
climb up. ' Side first,' said the eldest-born. So she climbed 
up side first and the snakes bit her in the side, and she cried 
out ' Oh ! oh ! oh ! ' and fell to the ground and covered her 
side with ashes. 

Next day she was very hungry and said to the children, 
'Little ones, how can you get up.'*' 'Head first,' said the 
eldest-born. Then she climbed up head first, but a wasp 
stung her in the cheek when she was half-way up and she fell 


Folk Taies 


again, and covered her head with ashes and lay muttering 
and moaning. 

Now it happened that their father dreamt of the children 
and changed his plans, and taking his nets and spears and 
fish came back to his home. Now when he got to the 
woman's house there was no one there. 'Ah!' said he, 
' where are the little ones and their mother ? ' 

As he went down the river to bathe he was startled by a 
coconut falling quite close to him ; looking up he saw his 
children. ' How did you get up there ? Where is your 
mother?' said he. 'Our grandmother killed her,' said the 
eldest-born, 'and we fled here to avoid being killed.' Then 
calling to the gontida tree to let them down they descended to 
the ground and greeted their father. 

He went to his house and began sharpening his long 
cutting tool and he ground and ground it until it was very 
sharp \ 

Then he called, * Mother, come and get your share of my 
fish, I know you are hungry for fish meat, come and get it ! ' 
But the hag who was moaning ' Oh my legs ! Oh my back ! 
Oh my head !' said, ' Let the eldest-born bring it.' ' He has 
gone to cut wood ! ' the father answered. ' Then let the 
second-born bring it.' ' She has gone to get water ! ' ' Then 
let the baby bring it.' ^ He is cleaning fish for me ! ' So she 
crawled out until she was under the ladder of the house. 
' Throw it out here,' she said. 

'No, it is good fish, come up here and get it.' 

So she climbed up the house ladder groaning in pain as 
she did so, and as soon as her head appeared across the 
threshold her son cut her throat. Then he took all his 
things and burnt the two houses and went down to the 
beach and got on board his canoe with all his belongings and 
his three children, to cross over to the islands^ Now there 

* ' Cutting tool,' i.e. anibori, literally ' a thing to cut with,' bori is ' to cut with a 
drawing motion,' ani is a prefix indicating instrument. It might of course be made 
of bamboo, but the verb used for sharpening is literally grind, whence may be 
supposed a stone instrument. This apparent reference to a cutting instrument of 
stone is especially interesting since a few prehistoric obsidian implements have 
recently been obtained from the northern coast of the Possession and from Good- 
enough Island. But these tools have all been made by flaking, not by grinding. 
Cf. Seligmann and Joyce, Anthropological Essays presented to Edward Burnett 
Tylor. Oxford, 1907, pp. 326 — 328. 

2 The houses were probably burnt to destroy anything personal that might be 
left in them, such as hair, teeth, or fragments of native cloth once worn by their 
former inhabitants, which if they fell into the hands of any sorcerer might be used 

4o8 The Southern Massim 

was a strong current and the canoe made no headway, so the 
man threw out his youngest born to Hghten the canoe. But 
by-and-by the waves grew higher and higher and the man 
threw his second born overboard, and he and his eldest 
son bailed hard to keep their canoe afloat. And when night 
came on the canoe filled and as they were in the open sea, 
they soon drowned. 


(Bou, Goodenough Bay.) 

A boa constrictor gave birth to a daughter who looked 
like an ordinary girl. When she was full grown she began 
to go to other people's gardens and steal food. 

One day a certain woman finding her food stolen said to 
herself, 'Who has come here and broken down sugar-cane 
and 07^abu and taken my food away.^*' Although she looked 
carefully she could find no traces of the thief, so she dug 
up her day's supply of vegetables and went back to her home 
on the beach. 

As soon as she was out of sight, the snake's daughter, 
who had been hiding, came and pulled up more taro and 
carefully filled the holes in again, she also broke off an ample 
supply of sugar-cane and orabu^. 

Now in the morning the woman again came to her garden 
and soon saw that food had been taken away, but she could 
not find any trace of the thief. This happened once more, 
so the woman told the men about it and one of the men 
remained in hiding to see who the thief could be. 

Very soon the snake's daughter came and as usual dug up 
taro and took sugar-cane and orabu, she put it in her basket 
and slinging it over her shoulder prepared to go off 

Then the man jumped up and seized her, and she cried 
for help, saying, 'Mother, mother, I am dying,' but the man 
said to her, ' Don't be frightened, I have caught you, and you 
shall be my wife.' So she went home with him to his house 
and lived there. 

to bewitch their former owners. This custom of burning down their houses when 
a village site is entirely deserted is generally observed by the people of Awaiama 
and Taupota lying immediately to the east of Goodenough Bay. 

* Orabu is the flower or more properly the bud of a species of bamboo-like 
rush common in the district. It is eaten roasted in its sheath or boiled. 

Folk Tales 409 

After a while she bore a son, and one day she said to her 
husband, 'You stay here and be nurse, I will go to the 
gardens and get our food, if my mother should come while I 
am away don't be frightened.' 

He remained by the child till noon, when suddenly an 
enormous snake came gliding along the path, every now and 
then she paused to look about her, and presently she came to 
the steps, leading up to the house, after satisfying herself that 
all was safe she entered and coiled herself under the net bag 
in which the child was sleeping. Then she raised her head 
to the bag and smelt and licked the young child and remained 
on the watch for some time and presently moved away into 
the bush. 

By-and-by the woman came home and questioned her 
husband, saying, 'Has anyone been here .^' He answered 
her, 'No! but a snake came here.' 'Oh,' said the woman, 
'that was my mother, why didn't you tell her to stay?' 

That night while they were sleeping, the snake returned 
and woke the woman up and said, 'Let your husband go to 
the gardens to-morrow and you stay at home.' 

So next day the man went to the gardens, and at midday 
the snake came just as before, and as there were no strangers 
about the snake came into the house, and coiled herself up 
under the net bag, smelt and licked the child, and the woman 
prevailed on her mother to stay with them. 

When the man came home with the food they cooked it 
and all ate of it, and the old snake said, 'To-morrow both of 
you can go to work at the gardens, and I will mind the baby'; 
so both of them went, and about midday the snake took the 
baby and lengthened its legs so much that not only could 
it stand and walk, but it ran about and played outside the 

When the woman and her husband came home the 
mother missed her child. 'Where is baby?' she asked her 
mother. 'Can't you see?' said the old woman, 'he is playing 
about outside.' 'My poor little son,' said the woman, 'why 
have you made him able to run about like that?' Then the old 
snake called out, 'Come here, sonny,' and the child came to 
her and she shortened his legs and said, 'The sun is from 
Tanama to Tauaga now, when it is from Kurada to Obiro 
then run about again\' 

1 'The sun is from Tanama to Tauaga now,' was stated to imply that the 

4IO The Southern Massim 

The woman said to her mother, 'To-morrow you go to the 
gardens,' so on the morrow the old snake went off to work 
and she broke off a single leaf of orabu and it became orabu 
buds, and a single leaf of sugar-cane became a stack of sugar- 
cane and a taro leaf became a heap of taro, and then she came 
home again. 

When they saw the food the man said to his wife, 'Tell 
our mother that she brings food from the gardens excellently 
well,' so she told her mother, who said, 'You two can go to 
the gardens to-morrow and I will stay.' But when they 
reached the gardens they found as much food as there had 
been and no sugar-canes were broken, and they looked at 
each other in surprise for there were no traces of food having 
been taken from that garden. 

And this is why the mountain people have plenty of food, 
but it is not nice for it has been enchanted. 


(Wedau, Goodenough Bay.) 

A rat and a butterfly made a canoe out of a chip of 
w^ood and adorned it with carvings and small cowry shells. 
They embarked in it and when they were out on the deep 
sea the rat broke wind. *If you do that again, you will split 
our canoe,' said the butterfly. Presently the butterfly broke 
wind, 'Why did you talk to me just now.'*' said the rat, 'it is 
you who will burst a hole in our canoe.' 

'I don't care for I shall fly,' said the butterfly. 'And I 
shall have to swim,' said the rat. 

So they went on, and first one and then the other broke 
wind, until at last the rat did it so vehemently that he split 
the bottom of the canoe, and it filled with water and sank. 

The rat swam and the butterfly flew ahead. ' Don't leave 

incidents of the story took place about June or July. Tanama is one of the 
commonest names for Mount Victory a high mountain lying inland from Cape 
Nelson. Tauaga is a place on Normanby Island, so that the direction from 
Tanama to Tauaga is not, even roughly, the path of the sun in June or July. 
Kurada lies due west of the Bou district inland from Bartle Bay and Obira 
is a mountain nearly due east of the same area. From Kurada to Obira is not 
the path of the sun at any time. If the direction were reversed, from Obira to 
Kurada would indicate the direction of the sun's movement at the ecjuinoxes, so 
that an interval of either three or nine months would be indicated m the story 
as the time during which the child's legs were to grow. 

Folk Tales 411 

me,' the rat called out to him, 'come back and we will keep 

When the butterfly got tired he came back and perched 
on his friend's head. 'Get off! we shall sink,' said the rat. 
'It was you who split the canoe,' said the butterfly, 'I am on 
your head and you must swim to land.' 

So the rat swam on while the butterfly was sitting on 
his head. 

At last they reached shallow water and waded ashore, and 
the rat was so tired that he did not shake the water from his 
coat, but lay down to rest while his friend the butterfly started 
off in quest of food. The butterfly went to a banana garden 
and sucked the juice exuding from over ripe bananas, and 
presently the rat went to a sugar-cane patch, climbed a juicy 
cane and began to gnaw it. He gnawed and he gnawed, 
till suddenly the cane broke, and falling over towards him 
held him in the notch he had made. 'Ki ki ki,' he cried out 
and the butterfly came to help his friend, but he was already 
dead: so he wrapped him up in an aravi mat and called to 
all his fellows. 

Many butterflies came and together they carried the rat 
to the grave they had prepared for him. Now the kite saw 
the procession and said, 'What feast is this of yours, my 
friends.-^' But they would not tell him. The osprey said, 
'What meat have you got wrapped up there, you fellows.'^' 
But they didn't answer him. The other carrion birds also 
asked them, but the butterflies carried the rat away and 
buried him safely. 


(Wamira, Goodenough Bay.) 

One day a green tree lizard went fishing with a bird ; 
they built a dam, and when the stream was turned aside they 
fished in the pools of the river bed. As it was a good season 
they were very successful, and after they had collected their 
fish, they placed them in two heaps and wrapped them in 
leaves and rushes. Then they went up stream to wash them- 
selves after their work. 

After they had bathed the lizard said to the bird, 'Try 
how long you can dive and hold your breath.' The bird 

412 The Southern Masshn 

dived but had to come up almost immediately. 'What a 
short breath you have,' said the lizard, 'watch me.' 

Saying this, he dived, and when under water swam down 
stream until he reached the bundles of fish. He gfot out 
stealthily and ate the bird's share, but packed the bones and 
head in the bundle again which made it look as if it had 
not been touched. Then he dived in again, swam back and 
came up in front of the bird who was beginning to believe 
the lizard was drowned. 

'What a long breath is yours,' said the bird; 'I was think- 
ing you were drowned.' 

They went back and got their parcels of fish. ' How light 
my bundle is,' said the bird; 'so is mine,' said the lizard, and 
they went to the village. 

When the poor bird opened his bundle and found only 
bones he thought some enchanter had eaten his fish, and so 
went to sleep supperless. 

Next day they went fishing together and after they had 
caught their fish they had a diving match, and again the bird 
found that his bundle contained only bones. But when the 
bird saw that his fish had disappeared while the lizard's had 
not, he began to suspect the lizard's diving, and so when the 
same thing occurred next day he put a spring in the water 
near to the place where they had left their fish. When the 
lizard dived, all was still for a few moments and then some- 
thing began to move rapidly in the water downstream, the 
bird ran down and found the lizard in his snare. 

Upbraiding him for his deceit the bird took a big pole 
and hit him repeatedly on the head so that he soon killed him, 
then taking him out of the snare he made a fire and roasted 
the lizard. When he had made a good meal of his former 
friend and hidden some parts to eat on the morrow he went 
home with a double bundle of fish. 

The lizard's wife asked where her husband had gone and 
the bird answered, T don't know, he came home by himself 
along the plantation path, I came by the river path.' 

And next day the bird ate the remainder of the lizard and 
threw the bones into the stream. 


Folk Tales 413 

26. THE COCK. 

(Wedau, Goodenough Bay.) 

Once there lived a cock at Diriuna, and it was his duty to 
give a return feast to the other birds, so he asked some of 
them who were Hving in his own community to go and get 
the fire with which the food was to be cooked. But they all 
refused, saying that they would have to go far before they 
would find fire, and so the cock set out to get the fire for 
himself He hurried along, and in the evening reached an 
uninhabited beach called Lavolavora, and slept there; next 
day he again travelled as quickly as he could, seeking fire in 
all the villages through which he passed, until he came to 
Porotona which is about thirty miles east of Diriuna. Here 
at last he found fire and a girl gave him a firestick. He was 
about to hurry back with this, when the girl asked him where 
he lived. He told her and explained that he was making 
a feast, and since she had given him the brand he invited her 
to come and take part in the feast, of course expecting her 
to bring such food as coconuts which men possessed but 
the birds had not. The girl told her father of the cock's 
invitation, and because her father coveted the cock and its 
beautiful plumage, he agreed to take his daughter to the 
feast, bringing coconuts with him, in the hope that they would 
be able to catch the bird. When the father and his daughter 
arrived at Diriuna they found all the birds assembled ready 
for the feast ; and the girl pointed out the cock to her father. 
Now the girl and her father had travelled to the feast in a 
canoe, and after hailing the cock, they tried to induce him 
to swim out to them, tempting him with the coconuts and 
areca nuts which they had in their canoe. Perhaps, too, 
they feared the other birds, but as the cock would not swim 
out to them they were forced to bring their canoe to land, 
and when the cock came for the areca nuts they seized him, 
flung him into the canoe and pushed off All the birds, 
including hawks, cassowaries and flocks of smaller birds, 
rushed to rescue the cock, but as they came the man cursed 
them, saying: 'If you attack us you will never be able to fly 
again and will be forced to crawl or walk for ever.' This so 
frightened the birds that they all gave up the pursuit, except 
a few, who on account of the curse lost their power of flight. 

414 The Southern Massim 

The cassowary was one of these and since then he has lived 
in thick forests and can only run away when attacked. The 
man carried the cock eastward and kept him near his house 
and fed him, and only the cassowary and a few other birds who 
had brought the curse upon themselves by trying to rescue 
the cock remained at Diriuna. 


(Wamira, Goodenough Bay.) 

There was in former time an enormous pig which used to 
make fearful inroads on the gardens, and not satisfied with 
this, it devoured men and women, so that the villagers all 
crossed over to the islands for fear of the pig\ 

Now there was a certain woman great with child, and 
she dared not embark in the canoe, but dug out a hole in 
a hollow tree stump and remained there. After a few days 
she orave birth to a son ; she still remained in the hollow tree 
and in time the youngster was weaned and crawled about, and 
later he grew into a strong young man. 

When he had attained full manhood he remembered his 
mother's words, for one day when he asked her where the 
children and village people were of whom she talked, she had 
said, 'Do not play in the open, our people have all crossed 
over to the islands, because of an ogre, a pig, who ate many 
of them; if he sees you he will kill you and eat you.' So 
remembering this he went into the scrub and began cutting 
down trees for spears; when he had cut a number he split 
them, notched and barbed them, and put them in the smoke 
to season. 

On the morrow and the next day he did the same until 
after many weeks he had an enormous number of spears. 
Then he built a series of long and high platforms and on 
these he stacked the spears, and it was a strange sight that 
no one had ever seen before. 

Now the pig ogre espied this building of platforms from 

^ The native name is Poro Gwale and the word gwale is equivalent to the 
English word dun or perhaps red-brown. The title distinguishes this story 
from another, the succeeding one, called Paro or Dabedabe. Presumably the 
word gwale is merely put in to distinguish the story as in none of the three 
other versions (Awaiama, Taupota, Bolanai) of this story of which we know 
does it occur except in the title, A variant of this story was found in the 

Folk Tales 415 

his lair in the mountains, and on the morrow he came down 
and arrived at the edge of the first platform. 

When the young man saw him he began to rain his 
spears on him, but the pig only shook himself in his rage 
and got more and more furious as the huge spears pricked 
and battered him. Each time he shook himself, the spears 
snapped off in his flesh and before long he broke down 
the platform, however, the young man leapt nimbly on 
to the next platform and again showered his spears on the 

As fast as the pig demolished one platform, the youth 
leapt to another, until on the last platform there was a spear, 
the like of which has never been seen, this he thrust into the 
great beast's mouth and killed him. 

Now when the pig was dead the youth plucked out all the 
great bristles on his body, and lashing a raft together put 
them on it and said, 'Go away, go away, and arrive at a 
country where people are sad and mourning, do not stop 
where folk are happy.' 

So the raft floated away, until it came to the country where 
the exiles were sojourning and when they saw it they knew 
that their enemy the pig ogre was dead, and that they could 
return in safety; so they came back to their country, and after 
making a great feast of the pig, they lived there in peace. 


(Gelaria, Goodenough Bay.) 

There was once a sow who gave birth to a litter con- 
sisting of a number of pigs and a boy. A man returning 
from his garden found the litter, took the boy home, and gave 
him to his wife to suckle. As the boy grew up he worked in 
the garden with the other villagers, and shared their food, 
but one day when they were going hunting they told him to 
stay behind and work in the garden. In the evening when 
he returned to the village he saw pots of meat cooking and 
asked, 'What meat is that.'^' 

'Only wild pig.' 

'You have killed my mother and brothers,' he said, and 
refused to eat any. When the food had been consumed, he 
collected all the bones and put them in a bag, and at night he 

4i6 The Southern Massim 

went with them over the mountains, until he came to a river. 
Here he washed himself and one of the bones — this bone 
immediately became a pig and he allowed it to escape in the 
bush. As he travelled westwards he washed himself and some 
of the pig bones in a number of rivers, and wherever he did 
so pigs were formed and took to the bush. 

At last he came to a village whose folk he joined and with 
whom he lived, but because his body was covered with sores 
he had but one friend, a little boy who looked after him. 

One day news was brought to the village, of a big feast to 
be held inland and some of his neighbours went to this, while 
the sick man sent the little boy to see if the report were true, 
and to ascertain whether wallaby meat or man would be eaten 
at the feast. 

In due time the boy came back and said: 'When I poked 
the animals they said, "Oh, oh, don't do that."' 

' They must be men, then,' said Dabedabe (this is the 
first mention of his name), ' I will go there.' 

Taking his bag containing the remainder of the pig bones 
he set out, and when he arrived at the scene of the feast 
he bathed all the bones, with the result that they all became 
pigs. Then he persuaded the people of that village to set 
the captives free and to feast on the flesh of the pigs he had 
given them instead. 

They did so, and held a walaga, and ever since pigs 
instead of men have been eaten at walaga^. 


(Goodenough Bay.) 

Once upon a time there was a mapa tree and it was the 
largest mapa tree in the country, for it was a bariaua tree and 
it bore only five nutsl 

By-and-by one of the nuts ripened and fell to the ground, 
and there in place of the nut stood a boy adorned with paint 
and feathers and bearing a spear, shield and string-bag. After 
speaking affectionately to the four nuts still upon the tree he 

^ The walaga is the biggest ceremony of the peoples living in the neighbourhood 
of Hartle Bay. Cf. chapter XLV, 

^ Mapa is the Polynesian chestnut Terminalia catappa. 

Folk Tales 


walked along the beach, spearing several fish as he went along, 
until at last he came to a village. 

In that village a woman was cooking and her husband had 
gone to the bush to look for game. She saw the boy and said, 
' Come here, my son, put your fish and bag down in the house 
and go and climb that coconut tree and get yourself a nut to 
drink.' When he reached the top of the tree, he asked, * How 
many nuts shall I pick '^ ' 

' Pick two,' she said, so he picked two. * Now,' she said, 
'climb down head first,' so he climbed down head first and 
she cut his head off with her sharp pearl-shell. She threw the 
body away but put the head in a cooking-pot and boiled it 
and she ate it and it was delicious. 

Her husband came back and saw the fish. 'Where did 
you get this fish .^^ ' said he. 'Ah,' said she, 'if you fished 
where I fished you would get the fish that I get.' And as 
she was already satisfied she let him have all the fish for 
himself. Now the second nut fell, and became a boy, and it 
happened to him even as to the first. And it was the same 
with the third and fourth, all were killed by the woman with 
the sharp pearl-shell. When the fifth fell and became a boy, 
he spoke affectionately to the tree, and said farewell to it 
before he started along the beach. He speared several fish, 
and coming to the old woman's village found her sharpening 
her pearl-shell knife. He saluted her, 'How do you do, my 
mother } Have you seen my four brothers go along this 
way 1 ' 

'Yes, my son,' she said. 'Do you put your fish down, 
and climb up and get a young coconut for your drinking 
as they did, and then we will cook your fish.' He obeyed 
her and called from the top of the tree ' How many nuts?' 
' Two,' she replied, but the boy picked every nut on the 
tree ripe, and unripe, and threw them down. ' Now,' she 
said, ' climb down head first.' ' That is not the method where 
I was born,' said he, ' I shall come down feet first,' and in 
spite of her persuasions he came down feet first and jumped 
the last few feet. 

Snatching the pearl-shell from the old woman he cut her 
head off with it, and then hiding her body prepared the head 
and left it in the pot to cook. Then he climbed into an areca 
palm and waited. 

In the evening the husband came back and looked in vain 

s. N. G. 27 

4i8 The Southern Massim 

for the wife, but seeing the pot sat down and began to eat the 
stew inside. The boy saw this and began to chaff him making 
insulting remarks about him, but his voice was distant and 
thin and the old man said, ' That must be a parrot.' 

When he had finished eating he again looked for his wife 
and this time he came upon her body. The boy called out 
again, and the man saw him, and the boy told the man how 
he had eaten his own wife's head and the man was very angry, 
and ran and got a sharp adze. He came back and began to 
hack at the areca palm but just before it fell the boy jumped 
into another palm, so the man began to cut that down ; but 
before it fell he jumped Into another, and then to another, 
until all the areca palms were cut down, then he crossed to a 
coconut and so on until all the coconut palms were cut down 
except one. Then the boy threw a coconut down and hit the 
man on the head and killed him. 


{Mukaua, Goodenough Bay.) 

One day two men went to the gardens, one of them had a 
game leg and his friends poked fun at him on account of his 
leg and said, 'Supposing the Hill people were to come down 
and surprise us, what could you do .'^ ' 'Why, I should run,' 
answered he. 

'You run, I'd like to see you,' laughed his friend. 

When they got to the gardens they worked for awhile 
and then taking some stone flakes shaved each other's heads. 

All of a sudden the man with sound legs cried out: ' Look, 
look ! There are the Hill folk coming, let us run away,' but 
he had been sitting on his leg and it had gone to sleep, so 
that as soon as he stood up he fell down again. 

Gamey leg jumped up and hobbled away, but the Hill 
people caught Sleepy leg before his leg had recovered and 
they cut him up and ate him. 


(Menapi, Goodenough Bay.) 

Once upon a time an ant [waima) lived with a bird called 
Kukuku and they were very great friends. 


Folk Tales 419 

One day they made a big pig-net and Kukuku said, ' Let 
us go and hunt with our new net.' So they started off and 
soon reached the grass country which was to be their hunting 
ground, and they agreed that the ant should watch by the 
net while the bird beat for pigs. 

By and by Kukuku found a big pig, and started him off 
towards the net, at the same time crying out, ' Where are you, 
Waima ? Look out well ! There's a pig coming along,' so 
the ant stood up and when the pig got tangled in the net 
stung him in both eyes, and when he couldn't see he speared 
him and hid him in the grass. 

When Kukuku came up he said, ' Well '^. What has 
happened to the pig } ' At first the ant lied to him, saying, 
' I don't know,' but after a while he said, ' Go and cut a 
sapling and pull down some lengths of creeper,' and whea 
the bird came back Waima showed him the pig and said, 
'You bring the spears and net along and I'll carry the pig^' 

When they got home they cleaned and cut up their pig 
and debated which of them should take the entrails down 
and wash them in the sea } After a little while Kukuku 
said, ' Brother, I'll take them and wash them and you cook 
the pig.' 

Now when he went to the beach a fish-hawk swooped 
down and snatched the entrails from him and flew off with 
them and he had to go back empty handed. 

' Where are the entrails ? ' demanded Waima when Ku- 
kuku got back. ^ Our master the fish-hawk fancied them,' 
said Kukuku, so there was nothing to do but to eat their 
pig, and then lie down and sleeps 

Next day they went hunting again and this time it was 
agreed that Kukuku was to stand by the net whilst Waima 
did the beating. 

^ The sapling and creeper would be used in carrying home the pig. The legs of 
the dead pig would be tied together and the sapling passed between them ; a pig 
slung in this way is comfortably carried by two men, though in the story it appears 
that one man would carry the pig. 

2 'Our master' is used as a term of respect for the fish-hawk {manubada) is 
looked upon as the chief of the birds. 

Further, the members of the Aurana clan who have 7na?iubada for their bird 
totem out-number the folk of any other clan in Goodenough Bay, and so hold the 
highest position among the clans of this part of the coast, so that it is with pride 
that a man says ' I am of the Aurana.' 

Again, girls will sometimes speak of another older girl as '•au bada^ that is 'my 
master,' 'mistress' or 'lord,' where probably European children would say 'So-and- 
so is a friend of mine, I know her well.' 

27 — 2 

420 The Southern Massim 

By-and-by the ant roused a big pig from his lair and 
called out, ' Kukuku, Kukuku, there's such a big pig coming 
towards you,' but when he heard this Kukuku was frightened 
and hid in the bushes until the pig had passed when he took 
his spear and struck it into a gaguma tree so that the red sap 
flowed on to the spear. 

When he could find no more pigs Waima came along and 
said, ' Where's our pig ? ' Kukuku pointed to his spear and 
said, ' I speared it but it was too big, it broke down the net, 
shook my spear out and got away.' And the ant asked, 
' Where did it go .'^ ' 'I don't know,' said Kukuku, ' I speared 
it but it got away.' 

So that night they had no meat to eat. 

Next day the ant was in charge of the nets and killed a 
nice pig, and they cleaned it as on the first day, but this time 
a kestrel carried off the entrails when Kukuku should have 
washed them. 

The ant found out that whenever Kukuku took the in- 
testines to wash he became frightened and let them fall when 
other birds came near, and so when they next killed a pig he 
said, * I am not going to lose the tit-bit again, I will take the 
intestines and wash them myself, while you get wood and 
make a fire and cook our pig.' 

When Waima reached the beach a hornbill swooped down 
and tried to carry off the intestines, but Waima stung him in 
both eyes and killed him and carried him back after he had 
washed the intestines. 

When Kukuku saw the dead hornbill he was horrified : 
* What have you done, brother ? All the birds will seek 
vengeance for this and will make war on us for killing our 
master, alas ! alas ! ' 

' If they do,' said Waima, ' I shall hide in a tutuana tree.' 
' But where can I hide ? ' said Kukuku, * wherever I go the 
birds can follow me.' So Waima went and hid in a tutuana 
tree and Kukuku remained alone thinking of the flocks of 
birds who would soon miss the hornbill and set out to find or 
avenge him. 

When the birds came they soon found Kukuku and hunted 
him into the long grass, but they looked in vain for Waima 
because the ant had returned to his relations and together 
they built their homes in the tutuana tree, which is thick and 
leafy. But when they had built many houses the birds saw 


Folk Tales 


them and met together and took counsel as to what they 
should do. 

One bird said, ' I will try and break into their houses,' but 
when he tried the ants stung his eyes and he fell dead, other 
birds tried with the same result until nearly all lay dead 
beneath the tutuana tree. The crow, however, had been 
looking on from a tree near by, and he said to the few left, 
' Let me try,' and he began to tear the leaves off the ants' 
houses, but they could not sting his eyes for he kept them 
shut, and so he broke up all the leaf houses to the very top 
of the tree, and there were hardly any ants left, save only a 
few who hid in the bark of the tree. But the crow came 
down and feasted on the dead ants under the tree. 

And this is why all the birds fear to live in tutuana trees, 
because the ants build there, and the kukuku never again 
dared to perch in trees, and to this day lives hidden in the 
long grass. 



The south-eastern extremity of the mainland of British 
New Guinea is formed by two peninsulas, enclosing be- 
tween them a considerable sheet of water known as Milne 
Bay. This bay is some ten miles across at its mouth, and 
extends westward between its containing peninsulas for 
rather more than twenty miles. Both peninsulas are hilly, 
and on both, jungle-clad hills which soon become tall enough 
to be called mountains, approach closely to a narrow beach. 
Passing in a westerly direction, beyond the head of the bay, 
these hills rise to a height of some 3,500 feet, not in a solid 
line but rather as a succession of bush-clad knolls and slopes, 
separated by shallow valleys and scored everywhere by zig- 
zag gullies. Only the south shore of Milne Bay was 
visited ; the land between the sea and the hills is a flat fertile 
plain, only a few feet above high-water mark, narrow to the 
eastward but widening rapidly till it sweeps round the head of 
the bay and narrows again on the north shore. The drainage 
of the country about the bay is effected by a number of small 
streams and creeks and two rather larger rivers at its head. 
The banks of the lower reaches of these streams are thickly 
planted with coconuts, areca nuts, palms and other trees 
among which are situated the houses of their owners ; 
Plate XLIX is a view taken on the Maivara River at the 
head of the bay. 

Discovery Bay, where we anchored, is a roughly semi- 
circular bay some three-quarters of a mile across, in the southern 
peninsula containing Milne Bay. Here the flat coastal zone 
is about three-quarters of a mile wide, with, the natives say, a 
narrow belt of swamp land close to the hills. The surface soil 

Plate XLIX 

Scene on Mai vara River 

Plate L 

Hamlet on Rogea Island 


Plate LI 

Hamlet on Teste Island 

Geographical Relations and History 423 

is a rich clay of no great thickness, judging by sections cut by 
the small streams, but deep enough to make excellent gardens. 
A crescent of coconut trees stretches along the edge of Dis- 
covery Bay, among which are many houses standing alone or 
in small groups such as are shown in Plate L. The photograph 
reproduced in this plate was taken from the fringing reef off 
Rogea Island and similar small settlements stretch a little 
way up each of the two rather insignificant streams which 
empty into Discovery Bay and supply the natives of Wagawaga 
with fresh water. 

At first sight the houses scattered around the curve of the 
bay appear to form one village, using this term in the ordinary 
European sense, and they are so regarded by the white men 
who visit it, be they government officers, traders, or mission- 
aries, all of whom apply the word Wagawaga to the whole of 
the scattered houses around this bay. 

This however is a misapplication of the name, each group 
of houses constitutes a hamlet in the sense defined in the 
Introduction (p. 8), and Wagawaga is merely the name of 
one of the strongest hamlets. 

It is as a matter of convenience that a number of hamlets 
built in contiguity with each other and acting together for 
purposes of offence and defence are collectively spoken of 
by one name. As stated in the Introduction (p. 9) I apply 
the term hamlet-group to such a collection of hamlets. 

The hamlets of Wagawaga and Tubetube vary considerably 
in size. Etuyawa hamlet of Wagawaga has but a single house, 
while large hamlets contain from twelve to twenty houses. 
Such a large number of houses is not however usual, and I 
am under the impression that from four to eight houses is 
the ordinary number constituting one hamlet-group. • Plate LI 
shows a two-house hamlet on Wari (Teste Island) which is in 
every way typical of a Massim hamlet. 

The relative position of the hamlets of Wagawaga, to use 
the term commonly applied to the whole of the Discovery 
Bay hamlet-group, are shown in figure 34. Their names 
from West to East are : 

Duria, inhabited by an immigrant stock, originally from 
near I^st Cape, who have assumed a Wagawaga 
clan and whose foreign origin has been almost for- 


The Southern Massim 




Geographical Relations and History 425 

Hehego, where there are a few folk of the same immi- 
grant stock from Basilaki as those who have settled 
at Yabarawa. 

Wagawaga Pupuna. 
Etuyawa. A one-house hamlet, its owner being a rather 

recent immigrant. 
Yabarawa. A portion of the old land of this hamlet has 
been occupied by immigrants from Basilaki, and these 
folk practically constitute an additional hamlet. 
Tubetube and Birobiro. These hamlets are extinct, 

but their sites still bear their old names. 
Excluding certain immigrants the inhabitants of the hamlets 
of Wagawaga belong to three stocks or clans — for the terms are 
here synonymous — called respectively Garuboi, Modewa and 
Hurana. The oldest of the present Wagawaga settlements 
are almost certainly those of the Garuboi stock who now 
inhabit the hamlets of Wagawaga, Wagawaga Pupuna, 
Kasaiauura, Suaiaro and Kanabwahi, and it is noteworthy that 
the name of one of these hamlets is that given to the whole 
hamlet-group when the latter is spoken of in its broadest 

It is said that long ago each of the three Wagawaga stocks 
lived in the bush, the name of the site being perpetuated in that 
of the stock, but it was so long ago that even the direction 
of these ancestral settlements has been forgotten and the 
actual known origin of the Garuboi stock of Wagawaga is 
from a bush settlement called Bobowa, in the neighbourhood 
of a place called Dagama\ 

Long ago there was a settlement called Bobowa near 
Dagama, which is far away in the bush. The story tells how 
once upon a time a party of Bobowa men attempted to eat 
certain edible roots called rikedi (apparently a kind of taro), 
before they were properly cooked, but finding that they were 
not yet soft, put them in the hot ashes again. When they 

1 My notes suggest that this is the name of a hill, but the matter is by no means 

426 The Southern Massim 

were properly cooked another Bobowa man took them away 
and ate them. The original owners of the taro were much 
annoyed, and when they discovered the thief a good deal of 
recrimination followed and a few more or less harmless blows 
were struck. Each clan took the part of their clansman, and 
the next morning finding the matter had not been settled 
by a night's rest, a party of men left Bobowa, and came to 
a place called Gumeni, described as being between Gibara and 
Maivara. Here they made a settlement, and stayed long 
enough to give a big feast (toreha). Among the visitors to 
this feast was a man from the coastal settlement of Bwari 
Keroro, in Milne Bay. Here a woman of Gumeni, one 
Sinedadaiya, took a violent fancy to him, and apparently 
without waiting to attract his attention asked him to give her 
some areca nut, which was equivalent to a declaration of 
attachment. When the Bwari man returned to his home, 
Sinedadaiya followed him, and when his folk asked the man 
what the stranger was doing among them, and even suggested 
that they might kill and eat her, he explained that she had 
come with him because she wished to live with him ; this was 
accepted as a valid reason for her presence, and from their 
children the present Garuboi stock of Wagawaga are said to 
have sprung. 

The eastern extremity of the Wagawaga hamlet-group, 
namely the folk of Dobuapa and Yabarawa and those who 
formerly inhabited the hamlets of Birobiro and Tubetube, as 
well as those living at Modewa, belong to the Modewa stock 
and have not been settled in Discovery Bay for more than four 
generations. Duria hamlet, which came originally from near 
East Cape, is to-day counted as belonging to the Modewa stock, 
into which its inhabitants have been absorbed by adoption. 

The early history of the Modewa stock is stated to be as 
follows : — Bwari is the name given by the inhabitants of 
Wagawaga to the remains of an island off Rogea, which is 
nearly opposite the hamlet of Logeapata. Long ago there 
were plenty of people with gardens on Bwari, but an earth- 
quake shattered the island and sank the greater part of it 
beneath the sea. Many of its inhabitants met their death 
instantly, others climbed into a big tree, and of these many 
fell into the sea owing to the snapping of the branches, and 
were drowned. Soon the tree broke off short and split into 
fragments, but men held to the largest branches and so drifted 

Geographical Relatioiis and History d;ij 

from the scene of the disaster. One piece, with men upon it, 
drifted to Wari (Teste Island), another reached Tubetube, a 
third came ashore at DahunI near Bonabona, another drifted to 
the foot of the hill on the mainland, opposite Samarai, on which 
stands the settlement of Pihoho. A Pihoho woman, going to 
the beach to get salt water, saw the remains of the tree with 
men clinging to it in a thoroughly exhausted condition, but 
being afraid to go near them she returned and told the Pihoho 
men to go to the beach. They did so, and, finding the cast- 
aways brought them to Pihoho, where, after taking the totems 
of their rescuers, they settled, took up land, and were adopted 
into Pihoho. About three generations ago, when Pihoho was 
much reduced, its people moved to what is now the eastern 
extremity of the Wagawaga hamlet-group, where they settled 
and fused with its people. The historical site of origin of the 
Hurana stock is said to have been near a large mass of rock 
called Tokea, which is within a day's walk of Discovery Bay. 

The immigrants from Yabarawa and a few living at Hehego 
come from Basilaki where their parent hamlet Is Bagomanl. 
The householder of the one-clan hamlet Etuyawa comes from 
another hamlet-group in Milne Bay. 

The total population of the Wagawaga hamlet-group in- 
cluding children may at the present day be taken to be between 
300 and 400. The six houses of Wagawaga Pupuna and the 
five houses of Kanabwahi together contain 52 inmates, or 
counting people recently dead 58, giving an average popula- 
tion to a house of 47 or 5*2, according to which method is 


Geographically considered the hamlets of the island of 
Tubetube form three groups, one on the west coast and two 
on the south, separated from each other by spurs of that great 
central hill which occupies so large a portion of the island. 
Besides these groups one hamlet, Hanawesu, lies apart a little 
distance south and east of the other settlements. The division 
between the western and the most northern of the southern 
settlements consists of a narrow but steep and high ridge 
terminating in an abrupt rocky promontory. It is only 
possible to pass comfortably around the promontory at low 
water, while the path over the hill entails a stiff climb. 

The houses are all built on sandy fiat ground fringing the 
beach, along the south and west coasts of the island, never on 

428 The Southern Massim 

the slopes of the central hill, and with the exception of Hane- 
wesu they are limited to the groups already mentioned \ 

Some of the gardens lie behind the houses, but much of 
the comparatively flat land on the north coast is used for 

The hamlets of Tubetube which, as already mentioned, 
occupy only its western and southern sides are called : 


Dagedagera includes its offshoots Wailakera and Tup- 

wana, as yet only partly independent and still generally 

spoken of as part of Dagedagera. Mr Giblin points 

out that tupwana literally means a portion or fraction. 

Dekwasoso, a colony from the neighbourhood of East 


Panare, a colony, but not from Duau, whence came the 

founders of the Tubetube community ; it is said to be 

originally of common origin with the Modewa stock 

of Wagawaga. 

Lekekeu, a deserted hamlet, the old men having died 

out and the younger folk shifted to Hanavesu. 
K wasak wasauusi. 
The Tubetube community originated as a colony from the 
hamlet of Bebwaiya on Duau. The colonisation was a peace- 
ful split from Bebwaiya, the first Tubetube settlement being 
formed by men of the Gegera totem on the site now called 
Dagedagera. After these came more Gegera men and people 
of other totems, Paie, Marapisi, and Dakawaiisa being the 
original colonies of the Kisakisa, Maidaba, and Magesubu men 
respectively. It was said that at this time the traffic to and 
from Duau was carried on in moderate sized Duau-built canoes 
of the pattern now known at Tubetube as kebwaii. 

It was said that previous to settling at Bebwaiya the 
founders of Tubetube lived at Dobu, before which their home 

* The shallow wells which give the only supply of water constant enough to 
depend upon in the dry season are also situated on the flat behind the beach. 

Geographical Relations and History 429 



\^ TopaI>arira. 





r — iTapwBcna. 


□ DeksTBSos 

□ Kasapai 



Fig. 35. Plan of the hamlets of Tubetube. 

430 The Southern Massitn 

was on an Island near Duau called Wagilona, while some 
informants carrying the history of their ancestors even 
further back, stated that they originally lived at Kelrara 
(Keherara) near East Cape. 

At the present day certain Tubetube men have rights in 
land upon the neighbouring Island of Narunaruwari, where 
the present Hanawesu stock at one time formed a settlement 
as the result of a quarrel between Lekekeu and themselves. 
The return of the Hanawesu people to their present site on 
Tubetube is a comparatively recent event, and certainly took 
place within the past thirty years, while a quite recent immi- 
gration of a stock or stocks, called Koiaria by the men of 
Tubetube, has peopled Naruwaruwari, though it is not clear 
whether the Koiaria alone constitute its present inhabitants. 

Bartle Bay. 
(By C. G. Seligmann and E. L. GIblin.) 

Bartle Bay is a shallow indentation, roughly of crescentic 
shape, in the south coast of Goodenough Bay, lying some 
50 miles to the west of East Cape. The distance from horn 
to horn of the crescent is about 5 miles, the direction of a line 
joining the two being roughly east and west. The country 
surrounding Bartle Bay is generally speaking hilly and broken, 
without any strikingly preponderant mountains, hills or valleys, 
though the loftiest hills in its vicinity reach a height of about 
3,cxxD feet. At the eastern extremity of Bartle Bay, the hilly 
promontory which constitutes Cape Frere juts into the sea, 
but west of this the hills recede from the shore, leaving a narrow 
plain and a series of terraces between the beach and the hills 
behind the bay. The plain, which is traversed by the Wamira 
River and another smaller stream, is remarkably fertile, and 
bears the gardens of the folk of Wedau and Wamira, the two 
communities whose settlements stretch along the greater part 
of the edge of the pebbly beach of the bay. The houses are 
usually low and oblong, and built upon the ground as in 
Plate LII, but a few are raised upon piles. The people of 
Wedau and Wamira present practically no differences in 
physical character and habit, and share many customs, so that 
it has not seemed necessary to separate them in the following 
pages, though in every instance where it cannot be positively 

Plate LI I 


Houses at Boianai, Bartle Bay 

Geographical Relations and History 431 

asserted, as the result of specific inquiry, that a custom holds 
good for both communities, the locality in which information 
was obtained is recorded. 

The people of the small settlements situated among the 
hills behind Bartle Bay closely resemble the people of Wedau 
and Wamira, though they speak a different dialect. Our 
notes on these people were obtained from the inhabitants 
of a small area or district called Gelaria, some five miles up 
the Wamira River, which discharges into Bartle Bay somewhat 
to the east of Wedau. Gelaria was also the name of a now 
extinct settlement inhabited by the people of Madawa Deba 
which, together with the existing hamlets Kirawa and Olavui, 
constitute the existing Gelaria community. Tanopota, Yadi- 
yadina, Dola, Topa, communities further up-stream as far as 
Garagaradi, some 20 miles from the mouth of the river, speak 
the same language. The houses of all these inland communities 
are built on piles. 

At the present day Wamira consists of two parts only 
a few yards from the sea, which they face. The older and 
more westerly part is called Wadubo, the easterly part is 
called Rumaruma, and is only three generations old, for the 
present Rumaruma site was occupied by the gardens of 
Wadubo folk in the time of the grandfather of the present 
chief [gulau) of Wadubo. It is said that Wadubo became so 
populous that some of its people began to live more and more 
in their gardens, and to build better garden houses, till the 
settlements (apparently Inibuena was the first) of the present 
Rumaruma came into existence. Gradually Rumaruma became 
to some extent estranged from Wadubo and, not knowing the 
chief [gulau) of Wadubo well, paid little attention to his 
authority and elected a chief of its own. During a time of 
scarcity a number of people of Radava (one of the two groups 
into which the settlement usually known as Boianai is divided') 
came to Wamira and, making friends with the Iriki clan who 
gave them garden land, settled at Wadubo. 

Each moiety of Wamira comprises a number of small 
settlements called melagai which, although they may consist of 
members (i.e. house-owners) of a single clan, are more usually 

^ Of Boianai Mr Newton says : ' Boianai consists of two distinct settlements 
almost intermingling, but socially very distinct indeed. In fact, I am not sure they 
were not enemies in the olden days. One settlement is called Radava, the other 
Boianai. Both consist of many clans.' 

432 The Southern Massim 

made up of a small number of houses belonging to two, three, 
or four clans, though even within these small settlements the 
houses of each clan are generally grouped together\ 

Obviously these melagai are not the equivalent of hamlet- 
groups of INIilne Bay and Tubetube, while even the smaller 
groups of which they consist are not necessarily hamlets in 
the sense defined in the Introduction (page 8). These points 
may be illustrated by considering the constitution of Damala- 
dona, the largest of the melagai of the Wadubo moiety of 
Wamira. This contains fifteen houses belonging to four 
clans, the houses of each of which are grouped together to 
form four named groups as shown in figure 36, for which 
I am indebted to the Rev. P. J. Money. 

These groups are : 

(i) Gunupora, with three houses belonging to clan Na- 

(ii) Gora, with one house belonging to clan Gora and two 
houses belonging to clan Anibolanai. 

(iii) Damaladona or Waduduvuna, with five houses 
belonging to clan Iriki, two houses belonging to the Radava 
clan and one to clan Derama. There is also a potuma and 
this is used by men of the Damaladona clans and perhaps 
by other men of Wamira. Sometimes the part of Damala- 
dona marked on the plan Waduduvuna is spoken of as a 
separate settlement under that name. 

(iv) Gado, with one house belonging to clan Iriki. 

It will be noted that only two of the groups enumerated, 
namely, Gunupora and Gado, are hamlets in the sense in 
which the term is used in this volume. 

The Wedau community resembles that of Wamira and 
contains some eighteen settlements, each having a name of 
its own and composed of from one to five houses. Almost 
every settlement has inhabitants, i.e. house-owners, of more 
than one clan, though this of course was not the case with 
one-house settlements, of which there were three in 1904, nor 
with a three-house settlement called Wanabu. The whole 
of Wedau, which consists of forty-seven houses belonging to 
members of fourteen clans, acknowledges the chieftainship of 
Bamdiri of Ari settlement of the Manibolanai clan. 

Wedau, Damaladona and several other groups of houses 

^ Literally melagai appears to mean the clear dancing place belonging to a par- 
ticular group of people. 


Geographical Relations and History 433 






. W 








S. N. G. 

434 The Southern Massini 

are named after coral or other rocks situated in these 
settlements, the names being applied to particular rocks. 
One of us has seen a native kick a rock, of which only about 
two cubic feet are above ground, and say pointing to it, ' That 
is Wedau.' At Imimira, one of the melagai of Wamira, there 
is a small coral rock, called Garuboi, which scarcely projects 
above the soil. The most strenuous endeavours failed to 
discover any connection between this stone and the Gelaria 
clan of the same name, and it appeared that to the people of 
Wamira the word itself has no meaning. 

In Garia there are three clans : Garuboi, Girimoa and 
Elewa. The settlements of the three clans are distinct, but 
are situated within a few yards of each other. Each hamlet 
consists of from one to three houses, some i8 feet long by 
1 2 broad, raised on piles. The houses are roughly made and 
by no means strongly put together. A flimsy barrier about 
1 8 inches high runs across the centre of each house separating 
it into two parts for the men and women respectively. The 
houses in spite of their limited size accommodate the whole 
family, using the term in its widest significance, i.e. the 
younger married members of the family would not as a rule 
build fresh houses for themselves, but would continue to 
inhabit the house of their parents or parents-in-law, bringing 
their spouses to live with them. One of us (E. L. G.) visited 
a house at Mapiovi in which four married couples were living, 
but unfortunately the relationship they bore to each other was 
not ascertained. 

Kirawa, belonging to the Elewa clan, the first hamlet 
reached when walking up-stream, has two houses with the 
remains of a third. All are in a more or less decayed condi- 
tion. In one of the houses live the taniwaga (clan chief) and 
his wife, his sister and her husband, his two unmarried sisters, 
and his younger brother. The other house contains only its 
owner and his wife. Kirawa is a colony from Dola, and is 
perhaps some twenty years old. 

Madawa Deba, belonging to the Garuboi clan, formerly 
had four houses but now has only three, the owner of one 
house which had become much decayed having shifted to a 
small hill above Olavui. 

Olavui, the settlement of the Girimoa clan, consists of one 
house. In it are ten people, viz. father, mother, sons and 
daughters, and daughters-in-law. 




Omitting certain Immigrant folk who are still looked upon 
more or less as strangers, there are three clans in Wagawaga 
the names of which are Garubol, Modewa and Hurana. Each 
of these has at least one bird totem with, in each case, a linked 
fish, snake and plant totem, all of which are Q.2S[^di pianai. 

Referring to the history of Wagawaga given in the last 
chapter, It will be seen that the names of the Wagawaga clans 
are In two Instances the names of old bush settlements whence 
the clans or stocks are derived. 

Excluding the people of Yabarawa and Etuyawa hamlets 
who, as already stated, are rather recent immigrants, there Is 
a dual grouping of the Wagawaga clans into clan-groups, as 
in the following scheme : 

Clan-group Clan 

Garuboi Garuboi 


Modewa ) 
Hurana ( 

As will be seen Immediately this dual grouping of the 
clans regulates the terms by which each person is ad- 
dressed, while it formerly decided who should take part In 
the cannibal feast held In revenge for a member of the 
hamlet-group killed by a hostile community. Further, until 
recently it determined a particular form of exogamy, but with 
the extinction of warfare and cannibal feasts within the last 
few years, the dual grouping has so fallen Into decay as to be 
largely ignored In the regulation of marriage, although totem 
exogamy Is still quite generally observed \ 

^ These clan-groups resemble phratries in that a man may not marry a member 
of his own clan-group, and may marry a member of the other clan-group of the 


436 The Southern Massim 

Terms of address vary according to the clan-group of the 
individual spoken to. A native of Wagawaga of either sex In 
addressing an old man of his own clan-group, would call him 
ail (maternal uncle), and the speaker would be answered by 
the same term (meaning In this case sister's child). An old 
woman of the same clan-group as the speaker would be 
addressed as Jiina (mother), and In reply would use the term 
7iat7i (child). A man will address an individual of his own sex, 
status, and clan-group, as ivarihi (brother or cousin), while he 
will address a woman of his own status and clan-group as nowe 
(sister or cousin). Both these terms, i.e. warihi and nowe^ are 

A man or woman would address any man belonging to his 
or her father's generation and clan-group as mahia (paternal 
uncle) and would reciprocally be called mahia (brother's child), 
while the speaker of either sex when addressing an individual 
of his or her father's clan-group of equal status or younger 
than himself (or herself), would use the term oina, which 
would be used reciprocally In answering. A native of either 
sex would address an old woman of his or her father's clan- 
group as ea (paternal aunt) and would be answered by the 
same term ; when addressing an individual of either sex 
belonging to his or her father's clan-group and of the same 
age as, or younger than, the speaker, the latter would employ 
the term oina, which in answering would be employed re- 
ciprocally. A man speaking to a man or woman not of his 
own or his father's clan-group but of a generation older than 
himself, would address such an old man or woman as goga ; 
and the same term would be used by the old man or woman 
in answering. This term was also used in addressing a 
paternal grandfather since he and his grandchildren were 
never of the same clan. A man would address a comrade or 
a girl of his own generation who Is not of his own or his 
father's clan-group as ivarihi. An old man or an old woman, 
respectively addressing a man or a girl of a younger genera- 
tion would call either of them warihi. 

community, if that clan-group be not barred to him by its being the clan-group to 
which his father belongs. I tend to regard the clan-groups as originally phratries, 
which, as the importance and avoidance of the father's totem became marked, 
ceased in a very large number of instances to be intermarrying groups although 
the old prohibition of marriage within the clan-group persisted. It is obvious that 
the Massim are generally in a condition of transition from matrilineal to patrilineal 
descent while at the extreme west of the Massim area the transition has actually 
taken place. (Cf. Appendix II.) 

Clans a7id Claji-grotips 43'7 


Nothing was known of any dual grouping of the clans In 
the south-eastern district at the time that I visited Tubetube, 
and nothing that occurred on the island led me to suspect its 
existence there. It must, however, be remembered that the 
dual grouping had decayed at Wagawaga although the natives 
there were far less spoilt than on Tubetube. In other matters 
the customs of Wagawaga and Tubetube so closely resemble 
each other that it is only reasonable to suppose that at Tube- 
tube a grouping of the clans, having the general characters 
of that observed at Wagawaga, may have prevailed at one 
time, although the Rev. J. T. Field makes no mention of a 
grouping of the clans in his paper on Exogamy at Tubetube'. 


It is certain that there is a grouping of the clans into 
clan -groups in the Wamira, Wedau and Gelaria com- 
munities. The condition prevailing at Gelaria will be first 
considered as this small community contains fewer clans than 
either of the others. Further, at Gelaria I obtained a legend 
which suggests that the clans forming one of the clan-groups 
are of common origin. 

The three Gelaria clans are grouped as follows : 

Clan-group Clans 

Elevva Elewa 

Garuboi \r^- • 

It was said that to the south-west of Gelaria there was a 
double-peaked mountain, whose peaks were called Viara and 
Gaova. On Viara was born the great snake, gartcboi, who 
made ' us, the beasts, earth, and we know not what other 
things.' Long ago he separated mankind into clans (banaga) 
and named them. To Garuboi he said: ' You are Garuboi 
after my name,' to Girimoa, ' You are Girimoa, but remember 

1 This paper is published in the Report of the Eighth Meeting of the Australasian 
Association for the Advance?nent of Science. It may be noted that the assumption 
that formerly there may have been a grouping of the clans, although rendering 
incomplete the information obtained at Tubetube upon such subjects as marriage and 
cannibalism, does not make the actual facts given under these headings less true, 
but it becomes necessary to read them in the light of what has been said concerning 
the grouping of the clans at Wagawaga. 


The Southern Massim 

that although you and Garuboi are two clans, you are friends 
and must not intermarry.' 

The Wamira and Wedau clans are grouped as follows^: 













Wadobuna (not at Wamira, at Wedau) 











Debana Mutuvia 









Biniwata , 
Dabodabo6<j / 

y (y f^tiU . 


The rule that 
intermarry is not 

members of a single clan-group may not 
limited to the Gelaria community, but 

^ For this information I am indebted to the Rev. H. Newton. 

* The Taubi people came originally from Paiwa to the north-west of Wedau. 



occurs also at Wamira and Wedau, and in the last two 
communities only the members of the clan-group to which a 
dead man belonged could eat the funeral feasts called banivi. 
Further, although the matter is not absolutely certain, there is 
every reason to believe that when a man was killed as an act 
of revenge for a comrade killed and eaten, only men of the 
latter's clan-group might eat of the body of the man killed in 
revenge (cf. chapter xlii). 


The arrangement of linked bird, fish, snake, and often 
plant totems which prevails throughout the south-eastern 
district has been alluded to in the Introduction on page 9. 
The totems of Wagawaga and Tubetube and many of the 
customs and usages to which they give rise are described in 
this chapter under separate local headings, but there are also 
a number of usages, more widely spread, but for the most 
part less specifically mandatory than those referred to, which 
may be conveniently described here, because they are subject 
to no modification on passing from Milne Bay to Tubetube. 

It seemed that men were not usually considered to partake 
of any of the qualities of their totem birds, fish or snakes. In 
spite of this a rather sophisticated native of Rogea whose bird 
totem called kiki is a small white-crested long-shanked bird, 
probably a wader and runner, said that if the folk of his clan 
attacked any other men who let the attacking party get fairly 
near to them, and then suddenly fled, it would be attributed 
by the attackers to their own kiki character, since the bird 
kiki would allow a man to approach fairly close to him, and 
then run away suddenly and very quickly. It was quite clear 
that the native in question had not been misunderstood, 
though to Europeans it does not appear reasonable to transfer 
the kiki character of himself and his clansmen to their 
enemies, who, it was asserted, would similarly explain the 
sudden character of their flight by the kiki qualities of their 

The absence of totem shrines and ceremonies having for 

1 Commenting on this Mr Giblin points out that although he does not consider 
that my informant wilfully misled me, he believes that the answer was m fact made 
up in reply to my question. ' seems to me that the native never having asked 
the "why" himself, did so when you asked him and then out of his inner 
consciousness evolved the theory, no doubt holding it afterwards himself. I have 
seen this kind of thing lots of times.' 

440 The Southern Massim 

their purpose the increasuig of the totem has been referred to 
in the Introduction on page lo. 

The following account of a particular kind of fishing float 
seems to show that a portion of a totem bird may be used by 
folk of other totems who desire to benefit by the qualities of 
the bird, which were apparently believed to exist even in its 
feathers after the bird's death. At Tubetube a feather of the 
fish-hawk forms an essential part of a fishing float used by 
men of every totem, though as far as could be ascertained it is 
really no better fitted for this purpose than any other feather. 
This kind of float called douiapa is used as a tell-tale on the 
surface of the water, being attached by a taut line to the 
upper edge of a gill-net set on the bottom^ 

I have stated in the Introduction (p. 12) that totem birds, 
snakes and fishes are commonly represented upon houses, 
canoes and implements of every sort without reference to 
their being the totems of the owners or makers of these 
objects. The following incident is noted here as it so 
thoroughly illustrates the result of this practice. Among 
the canoe paddles collected on Tubetube were two orna- 
mented with carvings of birds and snakes which were bought 
from their makers, but in only one instance did the bird and 
snake represent its maker's totem. 

On the other hand, an individual belonging to a particular 
totem might make a practice of carving one or more of his 
totems upon his utensils, though the fact that a totem was 
carved on an object was no proof that the article belonged to 
a man of the clan whose totem was thus carved upon it. The 
hereditary wood carver of Tubetube, one Taumawai of 
Tearuwasi hamlet, having the fish-hawk as bird totem, 
certainly identified himself with his totem more than many 
other men. The horizontal poles which support the greater 
part of the weight of the two houses occupied by Taumawai 
and his mother both terminate in typical bird designs, which 
were said to represent the fish-hawk, while one of the piles 
supporting his house has a snake carved upon it, which 
represents his totem snake. Further, a large number of 
floats attached to his seine net {inai) were carved to represent 
his totem bird, and although it was said that the nets of men 

* This description of the use of the douiapa is taken from the catalogue 
of Tubetube specimens collected by the expedition and sent to the British 

Totemisni 441 

of other totems might have fish-hawk floats, it did not appear 
that this was actually the case. 

Although it was Impossible to determine the exact reason 
why the mentioning of the name of a dead father or dead 
paternal relative was regarded as so flagrant an insult, it 
apparendy had something to do with totemism. Thus, if a 
visitor heard the name of his dead father or paternal uncle 
spoken, he would spear the man who spoke it, or if the 
culprit were a woman, he would ' swear at ' her, and perhaps 
strike her. The reason given for this intense avoidance of 
the name of a dead father or paternal relative was ' He no 
one sulu (clan), he no proper man belong my place.' On 
the other hand it was not an insult but only bad taste, to 
speak the name of a mother, brother or sister, or maternal 
uncle, 'That fellow he belong my place, he one suhc^' 


The clans, hamlets and totems of Wagawaga are sum- 
marised in the table on the next page, but considerable 
uncertainty attaches to the fish, snake and plant totems of 
Yabarawa, Hehego and Etuyawa. 

It was clear that at Wagawaga a man paid more attention 
to his father's totems than to his own, that is to say there was 
very much more ceremonial avoidance of his father's totems 
than of his own. This matter has been dealt with in the 
Introduction (p. 11). If a man did not respect his father's 
bird and fish totems he would, it was stated, suffer severely 
from boils. His companions would consider him foolish and 
greedy, but it seemed that there would be no strong public 
feeling of resentment against the culprit. Probably the rule 
was seldom infringed and one man whose father had settled 
down at Wagawaga and had been adopted into a Wagawaga 
clan, avoided eating both his father's old totems and those 
acquired on his adoption. 

A man respects his father's totem snake and seeks to 
avoid it, he would certainly not kill It. The relation of a 

1 The actual words quoted are those used by a Tubetube man, but the same 
explanation was given whenever the matter was not dismissed simply as 'old time 
fashion.' It must be remembered that the names of the dead were never spoken 
by their relatives or mentioned in their presence. Further, every one rij^^orously 
avoided approaching the graves of individuals of all hamlets other than his own. 
Cf. chapter XLVi. 


The Southern Massim 










Waiwai (crow, 
Corone orru) 
and Boi (reef 
gretta sacra) 

Ipi (Skate) 





Siai {Pa?'a- 
disea raggia- 
na) and 


Mota idai- 



Hurana (of 

(a hawk) 





imigrant Stocks at 



Kehoi (white 

Gimo (a dove) 

Kukori (?) 

Kukori (?) 


Monauri (?) 

Monauri (?) 


Marewa (?) 


man to his father's totem plant is less clear; it seemed that he 
would generally avoid injuring it. A number of Modewa 
men, whose fathers were of Garuboi clan, agreed that they 
would not injure their father's totem plant okioki when met 
with while in the bush, but if it interfered with their garden- 
making operations they would destroy it. This partial 
avoidance of a father's totem plant did not, in the case of 
okioki, extend to lying-in women, whose diet for some time 
after parturition consists of a decoction of yams and okioki 
fruit or leaves. It was repeatedly and independently asserted, 
that every woman, no matter whether okioki were her own or 
her father's totem plant, would eat this food during her 
puerperium. A man would not marry a woman with the 
same totems as his father, and one informant stated that all 
women of his father's totem were 'half-mother' to him. In 
the old days he would not sleep with a woman of his father's 
totem (cf Introduction, p. lo), but the breach of this 
regulation was considered too small an infringement of the 
clan laws to bring any harm on the lovers or their clansfolk. 

Totemism 443 

A man would eat his wife's totem fish as he would his own, 
and the same rule applies to the wife's treatment of her 
husband's totem fish; it was said that a man would be no 
more and no less frightened of his wife's totem snake than 
he would be of any other snake in which he had no special 

The feathers usually worn for the purpose of decoration 
and while dancing or visiting girls in their potuma are those 
of the cassowary, lory, cockatoo and various pigeons, while 
cassowary, cockatoo and bird of paradise plumes were the 
feathers commonly worn in the old days when fighting. 

In the Introduction (p. 11) I have stated that no man 
would wear the feathers of any of these birds if they were his 
father's totem birds. This applied even to the special head- 
dresses worn during certain ceremonies, thus during the 
toreha (cf. chapter xlvi) the older men of the community 
wear on their heads the beaks of two, three, or four hornbills. 
A man wears these whether his own totem is the hornblll 
or not, but on this as on other occasions, he would avoid 
coming in contact with the bird or its feathers, if the hornbill 
were his father's totem. Another instance of the avoidance 
of the feathers of a father's totem bird occurs at the waiapa 
ceremony, when bird of paradise feathers were worn by all 
whose fathers have not that bird as totem. Similarly, a 
man whose father's totem is the reef heron will avoid 
wearing the feathers of the rare white variety of this bird, 
while a man whose father's totem is the cockatoo, would 
not wear this bird's feathers but would substitute feathers 
of white individuals of the reef heron when they could be 

No information concerning the origin of bird, fish and 
snake totems could be obtained ; the legend accounting for 
the origin of plant totems is given in Chapter xxxiii, pp. 
379, 3S0. 


At Tubetube as at Wagawaga, each individual has linked 
bird, fish and snake totems, but with the exception of 
Dekwasoso no hamlet has plant totems, and the plant totem 
of this hamlet is not held in any respect. 

I The following table gives the hamlets of Tubetube and 
the totems of each. 


The Southern Massitn 







D aged age ra 

Gegera (scarlet lory, 
Lorius erythrothroax) 


Sarama (a 




Magesubu (fish-hawk, 
Pa7idion leucocephala) 


Gabadi (a 





Maidaba (a kind of 





Kisakisa (a hawk) 

{Afrioji virescens) 

(a tree 


Tubetube differs from Wagawaga In one Important matter 
of totemic practice, namely, the greater respect In which a 
man holds his own bird totem. A Tubetube man will not 
eat his totem bird, nor will he touch It when dead, In fact he 
seems to treat his totem bird with something of the same out- 
ward measure of respect that he shows towards his father's, 
except that he wears Its feathers. At the present day Tube- 
tube men do not hesitate to eat their totem fish, but it was 
not clear whether this was a modern innovation. The balance 
of opinion seemed to be that it had always been customary to 
eat these fish. 

In spite of the fact that distinguishing totem marks or 
badges were not painted on men before fighting, and although 
no attempt was made to avoid fighting with clansmen, a man 
who had killed a clansman in the heat of the fight would 
regret it, * bymbye he sorry, he no take him, let another 
fellow man take him/ that is to say, the slayer would not 
help to carry the body to the canoes, but It must be re- 
membered that on a war party a man would always avoid 
his own kill. It was never really clear whether in the old 
days, a man would or would not have helped to eat a man of 
his own totem belonging to another and hostile community. 
Probably the occasion did not often arise, but it seemed that 
the balance of opinion tended against his having done this. 

Toternism 445 

It was clear that he would avoid eating a man of his father's 
totem if such a one were killed, though no guilt would 
attach to the killing in the heat of battle. It was said that if 
prisoners were taken they would be interrogated as to the 
totem of a dead man, and if no information were forthcoming 
anyone would help to carry away and eat the corpse. 

In other matters totemic practice at Tubetube is much 
the same as at Wagawaga, as is shown by the following con- 
densed account. A man will not eat his father's totem bird 
or fish, nor will he wear the feathers of his father's totem 
bird. On the other hand a man will wear the feathers of his 
own totem bird, indeed it is clear that men would make a 
point of wearing feathers derived from their totem birds, and 
a man who killed the totem bird of another clan would often 
give its feathers to a friend of that clan. 

Marriage never took place within the clan, and connection 
was avoided as much as possible, but if a girl were particularly 
amorous and worried a man, he might sleep with her once or 
twice. Although such clan-incest was clearly recognized as 
immoral, it did not seem that any special bad luck followed 
the act, or that steps were taken to punish either party. It 
was pointed out that an intrigue with a girl was a preliminary 
to marriage. This was certainly the case in the old days so 
that there would, in the ordinary course of events, be no par- 
ticular tendency for boys and girls of the same totem to come 
together for any prolonged period. Now, under the partial 
influence of the teaching that all fornication is wrong, any 
boy will make love to any girl as occasion offers. When a 
man or woman married he or she customarily abstained from 
eating the totems of his or her partners father. It was 
explained that this was a matter of mutual courtesy and 
convenience, since a husband or wife would tend to feel un- 
comfortable, and even to quarrel with a partner who had 
recently killed and eaten his or her father's totem. 

Two old men of Dekwasoso, the only Tubetube hamlet 
with plant totems, agreed that even in the old days their 
plant totem, a tree called kaikuari, would have been cut 
down, and if convenient used as firewood, but as Dekwasoso 
is a colony from the mainland and has the only plant totem 
on Tubetube, it is likely that respect for it had ceased upon 
the island even before the coming of the white man\ 

1 At Rogea the following are regarded as totem birds, though except in 
the case of binam (the hornbill), it was not possible to ascertain, in the short time 

446 The Southern Massim 

Bartle Bay. 
(By C. G. Seligmann and E. L. Giblin.) 

The Wamira, Wedau, and Gelaria communities are formed 
by a number of clans which take their name from real or 
hypothetical bush settlements or stocks. Thus the clan (dam) 
to which Magala the chief [gulaic] of the Wadubo moiety of 
Wamira belongs is Iriki, the name of either an old site or the 
stock who lived there, both being often spoken of by the same 
name. When cross-examined as to the location of the original 
Iriki, Magala spoke of his clan as Irikie Daba, i.e. folk of that 
portion of the old Iriki stock who formed a settlement at 
Daba, near DIrluna (to the west) and of himself and his clan 
he said, ' We are people of Daba.' 

Each clan had one or more totems, the Wamira word used 
for totem being bariaua, a term used for any supernatural or 
uncanny agency, and applied equally to white men — certainly 
until they became well-known — to totem animals, and to such 
non-human anthropomorphic beings as a one-legged creature 
called Aetago who kills men. In an unpublished paper by 
the Rev. Copland King it is stated that ' this [totem] animal, 
reptile or bird Is spoken of as the father or grandfather of the 
family. None of the family will eat its flesh\' 

at my disposal, their linked fish, snake and plant totems : Gabubu (a pigeon), 
magesubu (the fish-hawk), gegera (the scarlet lory), boi (the reef heron), boioboio 
(crow), katakea (cockatoo), siai {Paradisea raggiana), binam (hornbill), kiki (a 
wader ?), and mariboi (the flying fox, Pterop^is sp.). The totems linked to binam 
are baiwa (a shark), gabadi (a constrictor snake), and a tree called kaiyabu. 

The opportunity occurred of questioning a few men from Basilaki and Rogea 
concerning their attitude towards their own and their fathers' totems. These were 
all youngish men, probably none of them were over twenty-five, and they all 
asserted that they would not eat either their own or their fathers' bird or fish 

^ Mr King gives the following additional information : 

' Dariaua is the word that describes the ogres in the fairy tales. It is also used 
of the totem, the animal or bird with which each family has an ancestral con- 
nection. And lastly it is used of white men, because we are not ordinary men, 
but men with strange powers and uncomprehended origins. "Did you ever have 
mothers ? " they asked us at first. " Were you ever suckled ? Our noses are flat from 
pressing against our mother's breasts, but yours are not flat, you must have come 
mto being some other way." When the native speaks of the white pigeon or 
a snake being his father or grandfather, and calls it his bariaua^ and refuses to eat 
or kill it, he fancies that his ancestry was, like ours, mysterious, the legends of old 
times and the fairy tales have got mixed up, and he can no longer separate fancy 
from history. Totemism is mysterious, and I can trace no deeper reason for it 
than what I have here described.'